Pianos Become The Teeth – Drift (Album Review)

Pianos Become The Teeth - Drift album review

Pianos Become The Teeth – Drift
Released: August 26th, 2022


Kyle Durfey | vocals, pianos, programming
Chad McDonald | guitars
Mike York | guitars
Zac Sewell | bass
David Haik | drums



“Transformation literally means going beyond your form.” – Wayne Dyer.

While these seven words from arguably one of the most successful self-help authors of all time may read as a simple statement, it is the message within the quotation that should have the most influence. Transformation is often associated with change, which is undeniably true, but there is more beneath that simplicity. The vital word here is: “Beyond”, the six letters that coalesce to convey excess, going above and most importantly, growth.

Baltimore’s Pianos Become The Teeth have numerous chapters in their story signifying their changes in their 16 year career. Their introduction in terms of studio albums went by the name of Old Pride, a remarkable vicious venture of seismic screamo shattering over a delicate post-rock soundtrack, as if Massachusetts’ linchpin outfit of the screamo genre Orchid were at war with the tremendous Texans This Will Destroy You and their tender instrumental compositions. The second chapter The Lack Long After intensified this formula placing PBTT in the same league of royalty to this musical exploration, Japan’s Envy.

Then, the third episode brought about real change – a split EP with California’s Touché Amoré featured a Pianos’ track with pop sensibilities and almost no screaming entitled: ‘Hiding’. This was monumental, vocalist Kyle Durfey brought about a raw and compassionate melodic ballad that captivated the world, if only for five and a half minutes. There was unrelenting power and emotion, but it was also to an extent thought to be an experiment, as split EPs often are.

What followed in this third chapter? A signing to powerhouse punk label Epitaph Records, the single ‘Repine’ and the announcement of the third LP Keep You; the change was all encompassing, Pianos Become The Teeth were closer in musical personality to the latter part of the career of Long Island’s Brand New than Savannah’s Circle Takes The Square. This alteration carried onto part four with Wait For Love, which sits very nicely next to any record that Illinois emo purveyors Braid have brilliantly crafted.

Pianos Become The Teeth had changed their form, however the five-piece had perhaps not “Transformed”. That is until chapter five – the quintet’s magnificent metamorphosis has been found in full-length number five: Drift. On this artistic endeavour, the Baltimoreans are far from an identity crisis, they found an identity to entice us.

‘Out Of Sight’ is a pursuit into a new realm of alternative for Pianos – it is not an expansion of their earliest chapters, nor is it a new resonance of emo. This is an exploration alternative art rock and it is astounding. The prologue of sorts is comparable with Radiohead’s expeditions with their amazing Amnesiac album – haunting synth/organ sounds, atmospheric guitars and an eclectic post-punk drum beat courtesy of David Haik; it is completely unexpected when recalling PBTT’s discography. The layers and characteristics of Kyle Durfey’s vocals throughout the song call upon Thom Yorke in moments, but other times hints of Geoff Rickly glimmer in remarkable radiation. This writer may need to remind you, this is just the first song.

Single ‘Genevieve’ carries on admirably with the Radiohead instruction, in all probability a comparison to Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood’s The Smile would be more suiting, although the near EDM percussion rhythm would dazzle Darren King formerly of MuteMath. It would seem this post-punk meets math-rock amalgamation is the calling Pianos needed to answer, they just could not find the phone.

‘The Tricks’ ups the tempo, namely through the percussion (again) and bass delivered by Zac Sewell – the atmospheric guitar parts by Chad McDonald and Mike York uphold the post-rock infatuation the quintet have almost always utilised which is complimented superbly by the dance synth interjections. Whereas ‘Easy’ slows everything down in a dreamy new-wave alt rock dimension; it borders New Order territory in attitude rather sublimely. Then just to throw a spanner in the works, a number in the vicinity of punk by the name of ‘The Days’ acts as a shock-wave. Although, if a friend-of-a-friend-of-a-friend said that this was actually a lost Thursday incomplete demo that Pianos Become The Teeth found, completed and improved, it would be believable and one would consequently find ‘This Side Of Brightness’.

‘Mouth’ is a dreary midpoint post-rock undertaking; in a sense it makes romantic notions of a Sigur Rós instrumental with Joy Division lyrics. This is an impressive accomplishment and a thing of beauty. However, this track won’t change the world of alternative music, that being said it is very difficult to not have fondness of this artistic offering. In retrospect, it is an “opportune intermission”. The melancholia of Brand New influence then creeps its way in with ‘Skiv’ and it is a comedown again; the whispers of saxophone builds intrigue and a glimmer of growth – in reality though, this would have existed better on Wait For Love. This occurs again later with ‘Buckley’, though this would fit on the Deja Entendu record.

‘Hate Chase’ expands on the growth the five-piece have undergone, it isn’t quite indie punk, but it is a composition Japandroids would very much appreciate. Finally the closer ‘Pair’ embraces that Explosions In The Sky aura in a courageously contradicting method to the song that preceded it. However, this isn’t a disruption or oddity; it is almost in the same vein of Holding Absence’s ‘Wilt’ without the power finish. Think of it like We Lost The Sea’s ‘Mother’s Hymn’ but the distant relative, the DNA isn’t exact, yet there is just as much beauty.

“Transformation literally means going beyond your form.” – Wayne Dyer.
“We are not who we used to be.” – Kyle Durfey, Pianos Become The Teeth ‘Mouth’ (2022).

Pianos Become The Teeth - Drift album review

Pianos Become The Teeth – Drift tracklisting:

1. Out Of Sight
2. Genevieve
3. The Tricks
4. Easy
5. The Days
6. Mouth
7. Skiv
8. Hate Chase
9. Buckley
10. Pair

Rating: 8/10
Drift is out now via Epitaph Records. Stream here
Review by Will Oakeshott @TeenWolfWill

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About Will Oakeshott (39 Articles)
Funny bloke, writer, Journalist, Vocalist, bit of acting, music, comedy and dad joke lover. Love: music, beer, bodyboarding, movies, books.