Monday, October 31, 2011

Album Review: Pianos Become the Teeth- The Lack Long After

Album Rating: A
Let no man say that what Pianos Become the Teeth lack is passion, for their visceral, heart wrenching approach to their craft is the very definition of the word itself. With their hearts pinned fast to their sleeves, the band has been a commanding force in the new wave of post-hardcore/screamo, stealing the hearts of those who’ve heard their ferocious and captivating brand of music. Crawling from out of the shadows of their larger, more recognizable contemporaries, they’ve been making a name for themselves within the scene, commended for imbuing a sense of freshness in a genre where emulation is commonplace. While it’s hard to deny that City of Caterpillar and Envy have certainly left an impression on the men of Pianos Become the Teeth, it must be said that the band has simply captured the spirit and energy of said bands, rather than riding on their coattails. This was certainly true on the band’s debut, Old Pride, and is even more true now. Pianos Become the Teeth has not only matured, but they’ve diversified and expanded their sound to such a degree that their latest, The Lack Long After, manages to be a wondrous outing that sees the band top everything else they’ve ever done before.

Now Old Pride was a fantastic record, but its brevity and lackluster production really hindered the overall product. The Lack Long After mends the areas where its predecessor came up short. It’s tighter and more concise, sounding just as the band intended. Although it has a comparable runtime, it ends up being a meatier experience in general due to every second being filled with excellent content. Where Old Pride tended to meander a bit, The Lack Long After stays the course, with each song being as captivating as the last. From the explosive opening moments of “I’ll Be Damned,” to the blissful finale, the album is stacked to the ceiling with impassioned, exciting music.

The veritable emotions in The Lack Long After are what make it so damn engaging. The band themselves stated that these songs were planned to be “darker and heavier,” and that certainly happens to be the case. While the rule of thumb is when a band makes a conscious decision to err on the side of “heaviness” it usually signals a lack of ideas, that sentiment doesn’t quite fit here. If anything, the no holds barred feeling seems to be just what the band needed. It’s more chaotic and passionate than ever, as every member has appeared to let themselves go. It’s wonderful to hear, the sound of a band collapsing in on itself for the sake of a magnificent, powerful aesthetic. But that’s why The Lack Long After is such an incredible and immense listen, for the band has fractured itself in such a way that it has become a more compelling institution. From Kyle Durfey’s energetic and ardent vocal delivery, to David Haik’s dynamic work on the set, the album is an unabashed explosion of intensity from a group of musicians who clearly have their hearts in it. Each member has improved in some shape or form, namely Durfey, who has injected some much needed variety and character into his vocals. While they’ve always been incredibly powerful, they’ve lacked subtly and poise for the more dramatic moments. Softer, cleaner singing has been added, all without sacrificing emotional impact. The guitarists have mixed things up a bit here as well, taking cues from their contemporaries by crafting more complex and interesting passages. The interplay between two makes for some exceptionally interesting moments, giving a feeling of excitement and immersion to the entire package.

Much like Old Pride, The Lack Long After is expertly well written. From the very beginning to the very end, Pianos Become the Teeth have written one hell of an excellent collection of songs that just so happen to rank up there with the best they have ever written. “Filial,” the opener to their debut, has stuck with me ever since I heard it those two years ago. Its fierce yet touching delivery featured just enough chaos and beauty. With their sophomore release, the band has produced eight songs much in the vein of that wonderful song. Yet it is the closer, “I’ll Get By” that truly takes the cake. Opening in a much lighter fashion than the rest of the songs, it slowly simmers in hopeful, yet somewhat sad atmosphere. It’s a bit mellower than the rest, as Durfey sounds weak, vulnerable even, and the guitars utilize a much less heavy tone. Yet the emotional climax and blissful outro make it a de facto classic in regards to every song the band has written thus far.

Well it appears that Pianos Become the Teeth has thrown down the gauntlet. The Lack Long After is an extensive, illimitable feat; an album that ups the ante and shows just how damn impressive this band truly is. Sprawling and stunningly engrossing, this just what Pianos Become the Teeth needed to make, and everything you’ve ever wanted.


01. I'll Be Damned
02. Good Times
03. Shared Bodies
04. Such Confidence
05. Liquid Courage
06. Spine
07. Sunsetting
08. I'll Get By

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