By Ryan Wilkinson
On 2014’s Keep You we saw Pianos Become The Teeth moving away from their screamo roots to create something soft and polished. On follow up album Wait For Love they hone that sound, pulling the relentless motion of their early albums back into the mix to drive home a simple point: no matter what happens, good or bad, life stops for no one.
Listening to the first half of the album, I can’t help but think about my own growth. Within a year I went from broke college life to living in California, using my degree and working toward my goals. So why do I miss my college days so much?
I found my answer in the album’s first single, ‘Charisma.’ Walls of guitar envelop you as Kyle Durfey narrates the story of a stranger who swept him off his feet, effortlessly tearing him from his life and habits into something “like a dream I’d catch if I stayed asleep.” He repeatedly describes his “Magothy days” slipping away (for those who aren’t from America’s simultaneously best and worst state, the Magothy is a river near the band’s hometown outside of Baltimore, Maryland). I couldn’t help but see my college friends and regular haunts slipping away with them; even if we needed to move on to grow, we will always miss what we had before.
But that’s what nostalgia does. It has a tendency to wipe out all of the bad parts of a memory, the hunger and heartache and struggle of your early days. We find the album’s title addressing that double-edged sword early in opening track ‘Fake Lightning,’ calling out that feeling “like acid in your chest” when all you can do is wait for love, wondering if life will ever change.
The rolling toms and syncopated cymbals drive straight through ‘Charisma’ and the second single, ‘Bitter Red,’ with barely a pause throughout the album’s 45-minute run time. In ‘Bay of Dreams’ – another song thick with references to his hometown – Durfey takes a moment to slow down and reflect on the loved ones he can no longer return to, even when he visits home. Anyone who has lost someone close to them will flash back to the moments they realized they could never make up for lost time with the simple, echoing chorus: “I’m remiss, and I’m reminded that I’m remiss.” Even years after the loss that molded Keep You into the heart-wrenching tribute it is, subtle everyday items from the past can still transport him through time in the jarring way that only pain can.
While reminiscing can help alleviate the ache of missing someone who was once a strong presence, the somber pace reminds us of how easy it can be to get lost in memories. Mercifully, unlike tearing ourselves from fond memories back into real life, Pianos use mid-album track ‘Forever Sound’ to give the listener time to adjust as it builds back up to the speed and noise of the rest of the record.
Accompanying Wait For Love’s singles is a trilogy of videos, telling the story of a pair of girls who meet by chance and dance their way through the city before stealing a van to drive north, seeking the mysterious, dilapidated barn where the band is performing.
Even as they exalt in the black-lit personal party they’ve found, they flashback to dancing in the city, to driving through the country; they’re finally where they wanted to be all along, and still they’re pining for their Magothy days.
Wait For Love encapsulates one of the major forces of life in a way few albums do. All of us hope to grow, to reach our goals and strive for new ones. What we tend to ignore is the feeling of loss that comes with that change, and the things we have to trade in to move forward. That loss can be difficult to define and address.
We all look back on our pasts and miss the things we left behind. It feels good to indulge ourselves with a moment of mourning for our old selves, and I’m sure one day I’ll look back on this very moment with that same sorrow. Then I’ll put on Wait For Love and let its constant motion drive me on to the next stage in life, the next dance partner, and the next cycle of nostalgia.