Monday, February 1, 2010

review: Pianos Become The Teeth Old Pride

Pianos Become The Teeth
Old Pride
Topshelf Records, 2010

Pianos Become The Teeth: "Filial"

Surprised at this release, like the time I went to the mall and the pretzels weren't stale. Like that time. I say "stale" because that's my new fear in this genre--the screamo genre, essentially. It catapulted up the ranks (did it not?) of popularity for the young set, a steady fad of the early 2000s, bands spreading from each and every way like unwanted crabgrass.

Notice, though, I said "surprised" and the words "weren't stale." Because Baltimore's Pianos Become The Teeth isn't stale, yes familiar, but fresh, fresh. What they do differently, than say Emery or even Thursday's last release, is they actually know how to play their instruments, how to craft their favorite sounds into a unified organism, to maintain their post-rock-emo-hardcore influences but expand on them.

For sure there is a heavy Fear Before The March of Flames emphasis, older Alexisonfire, but also a significant dose of more math and post-rock blends. What's downplayed are the pop-punk-rock elements, really it glides from nice math rock proclivities into hardcore very quickly, eschewing some of the typical rote elements that would bog down lesser bands.

Pianos excels with the opener "Filial," an all-encompassing post-rock number, but then moves into the screamo category with "Quit Benefit" and "Sleepshaker," the latter song being something that Thursday needs to look at to freshen their sound a bit--the intro is all-on percussion, the guitar melody line and bass lines mostly found in the instrumental set like Explosions in the Sky. Pianos Becomes the Teeth combines these two methods in a sound not usually heard, but it should satisfy the intensity of even the hardcore fans. "Pensive" does the same thing, except gentler and more alluring with loud vocals, like playing a game of paintball in Wal-Mart. In the end it's harmless, but still is messy.

Songs like "Cripples Can't Shiver" capturing downbeats like a frozen snow shovel. Rock hard, but steady and ready. Ok, "Jess and Charlie" kind of throws all that out, it's very energetic. And this album is only 8 songs? No matter, it's all fully formed.

Really, Pianos Becomes The Teeth excels on all levels, maybe the choruses could be a bit more defined, more "memorable" (dare I say 'catchy' or does that invalidate everything above?), but don't worry this avoids any of that territory, Pianos doesn't pander. Finally, the screamo genre has moved forward again.

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