“We’ve all got a lot of things we want to say with this record and we’ve all gone through a lot this year. It’s been really rough for a lot of us, but the main theme is of people leaving your life, either passing away or growing apart and going separate ways. It’ll touch on different subjects but people leaving is the basic theme. My father passed away in April and I don’t want the entire record to be saturated with what’s going on with me, but the reason I write lyrics is to get what I’m feeling out there…” – Kyle Durfey
Large amounts of heart wrenching albums are released every year, a large majority of which are filled with empty clichés of heartbreak and loss. 2011 saw the release of The Lack Long After, Pianos Become The Teeth’s follow up to 2009’s Old Pride, an album from which the band acquired a large fanbase. Old Pride also saw the band establish themselves as part of ‘the wave’ - a newly developed regional scene of post-hardcore music. The Lack Long After certainly makes for more than a tough listen as most of the lyrics focus on loss and death – two topics that will resonate with everybody at some point. The album is certainly a tough listen, but at the end of the thirty seven minutes presented here across these eight tracks, it’s most definitely worth it, however emotionally draining you find it to be.
There were problems with Old Pride; the album was littered with filler tracks, which didn’t display Pianos at the top of their game, the lyrics were nothing to swoon over and the angst, frustration and raw intensity of the album was sometimes undermined by the weak production. Emotion has always been a trait of the quintet, and this time around is no exception. Emotion is not only conveyed in the lyrics and through Durfey’s vocals (which explore personal suffering and morning so well) and are filled with more angst and are as gut wrenching as ever. The instrumentation speaks volumes as well, as they often mirror the lyrics at certain points. A perfect example of the instruments conveying emotion is ‘Liquid Courage,’ a song that describes a pessimistic character (who we can assume to be Durfey himself) coping with morning by drinking.
Pianos don’t write songs as we know them, as each song is a mini epic in its own right. Album opener “I’ll Be Damned” highlights how Pianos can successfully meld frustration and depression into such an immense track. “Spine” highlights drummer David Haik’s undeniable skill behind the kit whilst “Sunsetting” is one of the most emotional tracks the band have ever produced. The slide in the final guitar riff kills me every time I hear it. However, it’s the album closer “I’ll Get By” that shines the most, not just on the album, but also through Pianos’s discography. It is definitely the most controlled song on the album, yet manages to convey far more emotion than the others. The song has a different mood to the others on the album, It's uplifting and optimistic for the future. It’s your heart accepting death, accepting all the pain, anguish and self-hatred caused by tragedy and getting yourself together, moving on. If the subject matter isn’t enough to win over a response, then the way Durfey’s innocent, tortured vocals and the beautifully crafted accompaniment will.
Since Old Pride, Pianos have matured and every single aspect of their sound has been improved, whether it’s the production or Durfey’s gut-wrenching vocals, everything comes together nicely, however brutally honest. Here, Pianos breathe new life into a decaying scene through the passion on show. The Lack Long After ups the ante and shows us all what the band are truly capable of. Engrossing and beautiful, this is everything they were destined to make, and everything they wanted you to hear.
“I guess the means that ends us means nothing,
I just hope it's the peace we all need,
Because I could love and drown in your God damned smile lines,
but I think I burnt up watching you rallying to stay alive,
and I guess that's fine.”
This is such an emotionally painful album to listen to I struggle to give it a higher rating because it's not cathartic, it doesn't particularly reveal anything new about loss or even meditate on it. It IS loss and as someone who has recently had one hell of a loss its just too acute. This is an album I listen to almost as a form of self harm.