Pianos Become The Teeth - Wait For Love (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Pianos Become The Teeth

Wait For Love (2018)


Baltimore's Pianos Become The Teeth are a band that really transcends music for me. I traveled from the Caribbean to see them last Christmas in their hometown and it really justified why they're a cut above. It was quite sobering and majestic -- something I took a while to adjust to following their big shift from being a flagship band of the screamo/post-hardcore movement known as the (now-defunct) Wave.

Vocalist Kyle Durfey traded in his angsty screams and toned down to, well, actually singing. The rest of the band did as well, moving from harsh and very loud walls of noise to a lush, post-rock landscape reminiscent of bands like Gates, Prawn and of course, Mogwai. Their last effort, Keep You, signified this transition fully after a split with Touche Amore hinted at it years ago, and now, Wait For Love cements the change. Gone are the days of The Lack Long After and Old Pride but in this rebirth, something just as beautiful has emerged.

The first few songs here feel like a direct connection to Keep You. "Fake Lighting" and "Charisma" (which I had the pleasure of seeing live) boast that shimmery, melodic gaze of songs off the last record such as "Repine" and "Ripple Water Shine". The continuity works here and emphasizes that Chad McDonald and Michael York are getting their time to glow, and intricately so. The PBTT of old was too boisterous to really hear the magic they weave, but now, they're just as much at the forefront as Durfey's gentle lyrics (with an occasional swell and pseudo-scream every now and then).

However, while old fans might call this style a bit mild, lukewarm or generic, it's still just as intense. A lot of that comes down to Durfey's brutally exposed and highly vulnerable lyrics, as expected. The message here is that we live life, making mistakes, but in the end we're waiting for love. We're waiting to be human. And you get this as he talks about his transition from being angry towards his dad, eventually getting over their feuds, and all this weight being removed by Durfey now experiencing fatherhood himself. In short, between birth and death, love is what we search for and what makes us whole. And with his tempered delivery, these words he's reflecting with resonate even more. Granted, hearing him so comfortable live in this new skin, I must say while I was pissed not hearing "I'll Get By" (note: this song does influence a lot of tracks on this album), his voice is well-taken care of and not grated away like say, Jeremy Bolm of Touche (seriously, when he speaks he sounds so hoarse and it's due to years of screaming).

Durfey's tone fits what Wait For Love is about -- taking care of yourself for the future (and family) you're building. He actually dropped some notes on their Facebook on the influences, both inspiration-wise in life and also in terms of bands they love, and you can connect the dots here when he goes deeper on songs like "Bitter Red" (which evokes Touche's last album, Stage Four) as well as "Forever Sound" and "Dry Spell" -- which have the atmospheric presence of Explosions in the Sky. PBTT even pay homage to one of their other idols, Thursday, via "Bay of Dreams" which feels like the New Jersey outfit's instrumental "In Silence". While the guitars shine a lot on these songs, it's David Haik on the drums that has to be sacrificed though. He's their engine, frenetically pacing the old tunes like "I'll Be Damned" and such but here, he's much more mellow. It does work however and I guess it's because PBTT balance their style of old with the new path very carefully. They don't get it right like "Hiding" off the Touche split but hey, they come pretty damn close. What matters most though is the peeling away of emotional layers to reveal the humanity beneath and again, it's nice to hear Durfey singing more about life and love than bitter death.

Ultimately, Wait For Love addresses that old pride which burns away and makes room for the new fires that children bring into our lives. But to do so, we first have to find our soul mates. Which compounds this album's purpose: to remind us that while we might be waiting for it, we should go out and grab that fucked up thing called Love.