This week Baltimore-based post-hardcore group Pianos Become The Teeth will release their third full-length album Keep You on Epitaph Records. Prior to the release, the band shocked their fans by announcing that there would be no more screaming on the new album. Even besides the obvious lack of screaming, the album is much mellower than their earlier work. It sounds quieter and more subdued.
The album begins with ‘Ripple Water Shine,’ which starts off quite minimalist before crescendoing into something bigger with choir-like echoes. One of the high points of the album is ‘Old Jaw,’ which takes the listener on an emotional rollercoaster. In it, frontman Kyle Durfey’s voice almost breaks into shouting with sheer emotion towards the end of the song. This is contrasted by the next song, ‘Repine,’ which has moments that are almost pop-y with a catchy guitar riff and chorus. ‘Traces’ is beautiful with jazzy drumbeats and pensive guitars. The album ends strongly with ‘Say Nothing,’ which trails off into a stunning instrumental section.
Abandoning the defining characteristic of their music was certainly a risky move for the band to make. Because of this, the album will certainly prove divisive amongst Pianos Become The Teeth’s fans. But, it will help distinguish them from bands such as Touché Amoré and La Dispute, who they are frequently grouped with. On a positive note, Durfey does possess quite a nice singing voice, which is well matched with the expansive guitar tones prevalent throughout the album. Additionally, the album is very cohesive and each song flows wonderfully into the next. Though Keep You may not have the same initial dynamism of its predecessor, The Lack Long After (2011), it does demonstrate that Pianos Become The Teeth are capable of writing emotionally impactful songs even without screaming.