Baltimore’s Pianos Become The Teeth have been building to this - their third album - for the past three years now. And with a recent move from stable indie label (Topshelf) to industry big-hitter (Epitaph), the much-loved post-hardcore influenced band face one of the most significant and testing times in their already successful career.
Titled ‘Keep You’, Pianos Become The Teeth’s third full-length release is a risk which goes against an already well-established and praised screamo-esque sound. Crushing in both volume and spirit, the band’s previous releases present a refreshing and well-formed output of post-hardcore breaks, guttural cries and devastating epiphanies. But whereas records ‘Old Pine’ and ‘The Lack Long After’ are tightly held by fans for their moments of collapse and rawness - Kyle Durfey’s haunting screams a stable of the Maryland-born band’s sound - ‘Keep You’ retracts, and has rid of what is arguably some of Pianos Become The Teeth’s most defining features.
Although touched upon in their recent split with Touché Amoré, the band’s move towards a more subtle and dynamic sound was an eventual progression; something which was discussed a number of times prior to the release of the band’s third album. The volume dimmed and Durfey’s vocals refocused; Pianos Becomes The Teeth’s blistering and retched emotional sound is at its most approachable in 2014’s ‘Keep You’. But a more approachable sound doesn’t necessarily mean a more accepting audience.
A more thoughtful and introverted release, ‘Keep You’ begins slowly with familiar waves of melody and melancholy; its themes as poignant as ever. The band’s post-rock influences are allowed creep in further with tracks, ideas more pressed upon than in previous releases and the instrumentation given space to grow and fill. Opener ‘Ripple Water Shine’ provides a blueprint of what’s to come, with moments of calm and reflection.
Thudding drums, bright guitars and thoughtful vocals fill this record to the brim, providing some excellent passages of emotional rock, more than fitting with the band’s previous releases. But listening to ‘Keep You’, things just don’t feel right.
Pianos Become The Teeth’s new album is more than listenable. In instances it’s perfect. It encapsulates the forward thinking and progressive attitude of a thriving and self-aware music scene. But throughout ‘Keep You’, you can’t help but feel that something, somewhere is missing. And whilst songs from this new record will actually fit nicely besides tracks from ‘Old Pine’ and ‘The Lack Long After’, ‘Keep You’ as a whole, is somewhat forgettable.