Interview with vocalist Kyle Durfey | By Sean Gonzalez
Pianos Become The Teeth begin their fourth full-length record, Wait for Love—out Feb. 16 via Epitaph Records—with a thundering urgency. While the Baltimore quintet continue to expand their buoyant ambiance, there’s an immediate punch to album opener “Fake Lighting” that seemed distant on 2014’s sound-defining Keep You, most notably in the abrasiveness of David Haik’s drumming. The screamo of their first two LPs—2009’s Old Pride and 2011’s The Lack Long After—is still long gone, and Wait for Love is the most absolute rendition of their sound. It features inspired, personal lyrics and captivating music that broaden the horizon of the band’s emotional presence.
“Overall, the main theme is the ways we give and receive love through our lives with different people and how that affects relationships,” vocalist Kyle Durfey explains. This overarching dive into the subject of love expands the group’s sound favorably. The death of Durfey’s father to multiple sclerosis still occasionally haunts the singer’s lyrics as it has on previous releases, but Wait for Love is somewhat lighter and more impassioned, as heard in the fuzzy, upbeat “Charisma,” a story of falling in love.
Within the same frame, Wait for Love digs into the detrimental aspects of love, finding Durfey in personal reflection throughout the record’s run time. Established with the brash yet soaring “Fake Lighting” and affirmed in the closer, “Blue,” is a lesson in letting go. “There are specific things going on in my head, but overall, it is about having something that you focus on so much, or that you are not proud of, and learning how to accept it and move on from it, not let it tear you up so much,” Durfey unveils.
In the ethereal closer, Durfey is introspective about being a family man again, staring at his son and remarking on his resemblance to the vocalist’s late father, before the song’s climactic rush finds Durfey putting the worry away. There was always a tremor in his voice that defined the emotional pulls of previous songs, but here—and across the entire record—Durfey is confident in his delivery, standing firm against the swarming atmosphere and forging an understanding of his emotions.
Not only did Durfey’s stance and approach become firmer, the rhythmic sections of Wait for Love also boast powerful progressions, evident on the thick, groove-centered “Bloody Sweet.” The chorus is marked with a growling bass, chugging through a melody with Durfey and the guitars orchestrating a delicate, glittery presence above the foundation.
The theme of guilt within a loving relationship is discussed on the song. Durfey explains, “I was on tour, and my wife was going through some heavy physical stuff, and it got pretty serious while I was gone. I felt [I should go] home to help her tackle some things.” Durfey flew home to be with his wife, and Pianos Become The Teeth canceled a couple of dates before he flew back out to finish the tour. “I felt unhappy, because I felt like a horrible person,” Durfey continues. “So, it’s about feeling guilty for not being there when I should have been there, but there was nothing I could really do about it.”
While much of Wait for Love explodes in shimmering dynamics, the middle of the record features “Bay of Dreams,” a song drenched in atmospheric pulses and radiating warmth. The track has an entirely new sound, auspicious and inspired for a band who have continuously explored every facet of their songwriting abilities. The song’s hypnotic and slow trudge is led by Durfey’s regret over becoming a family man while being away at the same time.
There has always been lot to uncover with Pianos Become The Teeth, but their fourth LP shines bright with smarter progressions, utilizing the loud parts of their sound in clever ways without needing to scream. Songs like “Forever Sound” and “Love On Repeat” create tangible tension with powerful crescendos, allowing for every member of the band to perfectly accent each part. Wait for Love is the telltale triumph of a band finding their sound a decade into their existence.