It feels as though Pianos Become The Teeth have always had a very specific audience. Even when they were unfortunately categorised in the quick-to-flame-out post-hardcore subgenre The Wave, the Baltimore quintet tended to find favour with the emo revivalist crowd instead. Thus, their pivot towards that sound on 2014’s Keep You made a lot of sense, cutting out screaming entirely and embracing elements of shoegaze and post-rock that made Kyle Durfey’s continued grief at the loss of his father – and his subsequent closure – just as cutting.
But that was four years ago, and now as a father himself, Durfey’s perspective on life has undergone some changes. Wait For Love represents that next stage, now with the primary focus being on the vocalist’s son, but underscored by the melancholy that has long been Pianos Become The Teeth’s calling card. And in terms of that lyrical depth and openness, it’s easily the strongest suit on Wait For Love. The kernel of light of Charisma and Bitter Red can be easily seen in the joy that Durfey’s son has brought to him, but with the uncertainty and obliqueness that so much of the writing consists of, as well as Durfey’s dejected, blurred-over vocal delivery, there’s plenty to suggest that the turbulence hasn’t dissipated just yet. And when it comes to final track Blue, the narrative swings back to Durfey’s father and how he’ll never be able to see the family his son has grown. It’s the sort of considerably fleshed-out narrative that Pianos Become The Teeth are well-versed in, driven by simmering emotion that the emo framing is able to amplify in its wistful, hazy undertones.
It’s just a shame that Wait For Love rarely feels engaging enough for all of this to be beneficial. It’s a problem that many bands undertaking a similar brand of shoegaze-infused emo experience, and though earlier on there’s a bit more muscle thanks to beefier guitars and drums, it quickly becomes an album that ends up blurring together. Granted, the claustrophobic warmth that Will Yip’s production usually brings is here, but rarely is it complimented by much that’s worthwhile. There’s little progression in tracks like Bay Of Dreams and Bloody Sweet, both of which sound pretty enough when allowed to wash over and little else, but they never do anything else, and the kinesis that this album desperately lacks becomes all the more noticeable. The intention is easy enough to grasp – with the drone of the vocals and watery filter drizzled over everything, the sense of disconnect is there for the most part – but it all feels very passive without saying much the really sticks.
Combining the music with the lyrics, Wait For Love feels like a missed opportunity in terms of what Pianos Become The Teeth were aiming to do, and rather than an album that sees the start of upward turn out of a period of mourning, it ultimately feels like background noise. It’s pleasant background noise, certainly, layered and concise enough to push ahead unhindered, but compared to the emotional impact it could’ve had, it’s pretty minimal overall. Chalk it up to an ill-advised turn in a best case scenario, but Pianos Become The Teeth are definitely capable of more than this.
For fans of: Balance And Composure, Title Fight, La Dispute
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘Wait For Love’ by Pianos Become The Teeth is out now on Epitaph Records.