When a band changes their sound, it is usually to appeal to a wider audience. It brings forth more opportunities for the group and lets them put their hands in as many markets as possible. When Pianos Become The Teeth declared that their new record would have no screaming on it, there was intrigue in regards to whether or not they could still convey the same level of intense emotion they are known for while reaching out to these new audiences and markets. Keep You, an apt title, does indeed keep the emotional intensity, but does so in a different way. This record draws you in through being incredibly personal lyrically and instrumentally and continues to do so throughout the duration of the album.
Lyrically, these songs are specific in subject matter, which adds to the intimacy of the record. The specifics lie in the mention of peoples names, dates, places and even names of various interstates. The devil is in the details and that is used to the utmost advantage here. ‘April’, ‘Late Lives’, ‘Enamor Me’ and ‘Say Anything’ all invoke a heavy emotional response because they are so personal. It’s as if you went into the upstairs bedroom of a house you were considering buying and found an open diary lying on the bed.
The pages are clearly tear-stained and the pen was pressed to the paper with more weight than necessary, but these elements only added to the entries you were shamelessly scanning through. This is one of the touches that makes the atmosphere of record so enveloping. Vocalist Kyle Durfey‘s performance brings these stories to life through his unique croon and occasional yelling. The vocal clarity is really a plus here because you can understand every single lyric without having to strain your ear, thus being able to get the intended experience from the get-go.
The instrumentation of Keep You is equally as intimate as it’s lyricism. In lieu of some of the harder hitting instrumentals from their last two records, the band takes a fairly subdued approach and uses very clean guitar tones. They also use the post-rock method of building a song, in which intensity is built steadily throughout the track instead of hitting hard from the start. These two things work in tandem with the lyrics to make the tracks heavy without having to have layers upon layers of distortion or fast drum patterns. It’s also worth noting that these tracks, much like the stories they tell, come to natural ends. None of them are too long or too short, as they simply come to their conclusions when they are supposed to.
Keep You is a record that does just that. It holds your attention through the attention that it pays to detail. It is a very meticulous effort that exudes the emotion that you’re used to from the band, but does so in a way that works with their change in sound. Everything from the lyrics to the instrumentation adds to the atmosphere of the record in the best ways possible, allowing the sound to embrace you tightly, yet lovingly. It’s an embrace that you’re okay with, and in many ways, have been waiting for.
Pianos Become The Teeth’s Keep You gets…