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Pianos Become The Teeth - Wait For Love (Album Review)

Wednesday, 21 February 2018 Written by Jonathan Rimmer

The accusation that a post-hardcore band has somehow sold out by softening their sound is commonplace, but that shift is often the secret to longevity. So it made sense when Baltimore five-piece Pianos Become the Teeth reinvented themselves on their 2014 album 'Keep You', with vocalist Kyle Durfey abandoning his screamo-esque delivery for a more a melodic approach.

It's easy enough to attribute this to maturity and the inevitable consequence of values changing with age, especially when it also reflects in the evolution of their sound. Equally inspired by atmospheric post-rockers like This Will Destroy You as any expected hardcore staples, Pianos' early records were dripping with emotional intensity. Durfey's tortured vocals only amplified the band's objective of seeking to overawe the listener with every crescendo.

By way of contrast, 'Wait for Love' introduces a band capable of tempering their excesses. Less focus is afforded to dramatic build-ups and sweeping dynamic shifts, and more placed on snappier songwriting and intrepid drum patterns. Sticksman David Haik is a driving force, elevating opening cuts Fake Lightning, Charisma and Bitter Red with energy and flair.

The band have softened lyrically, too. Whereas even 'Keep You' had a tendency to be contemplative to the point of self-absorption, the images conjured here feel more tangible and are more beautiful for it. On Charisma, Durfey opens by reflecting on the birth of his son in precise terms: “It just begun / Pull from her / Pull to me / It's everything she wanted / It's happening with ease.”

Whether they're stringing together words or riffs, there's a striking realisation that simplicity is sometimes the most effective technique of all. This change in attitude in commendable, but it unfortunately has its downsides. The production, under the stewardship of the in-demand Will Yip, ensures that too much of the record feels muddy and one-note. After an opening salvo of hook-oriented tracks, the album is characterised by mid-tempo progressions lost in a haze of perpetual reverb.

'Wait for Love' might have less navel-gazing, but there are very few moments for a breather. For all the melodrama, Chad McDonald's all-consuming guitar lines undeniably made earlier records feel powerful, whereas here his ideas just get lost in the fog. Dry Spells is the most frustrating example of this, threatening to set alight with quivering guitar melodies and crashing drums but ultimately just losing momentum and petering out with no discernible climax.

Elsewhere, on the likes of Manila and Forever Sound, the band hark back to the sullen beauty of their older days, but the polished vocals and headache-inducing reverb serve to dampen the sincerity of the sentiments expressed. There are bright spots in between: Bay of Dreams is a welcome change of pace, building around a stunningly beautiful lo-fi piano melody, while Blue closes off the album emphatically.

In fact, almost every track here is pleasant and enjoyable in isolation, flecked with subtle rhythmic changes and mini-flourishes, however the rawness and dissonance that made Pianos’ early work so impactful is mostly gone. Any artist that seeks to expand their outlook and try new things deserves support and encouragement, but Pianos Become the Teeth's approach has been to strip away the meat from their sound – it's left them with the bare bones.

Pianos Become The Teeth Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Thu August 09 2018 - LONDON Bush Hall
Fri August 10 2018 - LONDON Bush Hall
Sat August 11 2018 - BRIGHTON Haunt
Sun August 12 2018 - MANCHESTER Rebellion
Mon August 13 2018 - DUBLIN Whelans
Tue August 14 2018 - GLASGOW Stereo
Wed August 15 2018 - NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE Cluny

Click here to compare & buy Pianos Become The Teeth Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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