Pianos Become The Teeth – Old Pride

Pianos Become The Teeth - Old Pride coverI don’t mean to blow my load too early in this here review, but Old Pride may be some of the finest screamo I’ve heard in a while.

As the pastoral, old-timey cover suggests, Pianos Become The Teeth are from the dynamic and distraught school of emo rather than the full-on balls-out self-destructive side of things. Case in point: opening song ‘Filial’ starts with simple clean strums and quickly builds into a huge, epic, tumultuous screamo-slash-alt rock tune with emotion seeping out of its pores. Some of the chord progressions deployed sound more like something moody post-rockers like This Will Destroy You would deploy than a more traditional screamo sound (ala. Saetia, Still Life, whatever reference points you want to use). At over five minutes long the song is quite a journey in itself; it’s very cool indeed and sets the bar high from the outset.

Other highlights for me are ‘Pensive’, a slow-builder which takes time to build to a ferocious crescendo, and the guitar work which opens up ‘Sleepshaker’; deceptively simple, it’s an intro to die for. And then there is ‘Young Fire’, a slightly country-esque post-rock number which wraps up the album.

But above them all is ‘Cripples Can’t Shiver’, which features a heartbreaking spoken story about the decline of the orator’s father, who suffers from multiple sclerosis: “it’s been hard to see him, as a man who loved baseball and golf, to go from standing upright, to walking with a cane, to going to the walker, to the scooter, to the wheelchair, to bedridden.” The song overall is fairly low-key and slower-paced compared to the rest of the record, and is probably one of the moments where Pianos Become the Teeth stray furthest into post-rock territory. Beneath it all, though, there’s the ever-present threat of emotional and musical intensity, that ferocious bombast that the best screamo can deliver. It might be seen as cheap or cruel to use a personal story of suffering and hardship – as a shortcut to powerful emotion – but there’s no cynicism here, just honest, earnest passion and pain. Like all the best screamo and emo music, Old Pride convinces most of all as an act of catharsis. And this is not only true of ‘Cripples Can’t Shiver’; there is not a weak song on this album, not a moment which rings hollow or false or insincere.

I’ve found it really hard to review this album because whenever I listen to it I find it such an intensely emotional and involving experience* that I entirely forget to take notes. I’m sure that fact says more about this album that I could ever have managed: “album too good, too affecting to be reviewed”. Yeah, if you don’t listen to this record I will come to your house and beat / scream / cry on you.

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* Yeah yeah, emooooooooo. Get a new joke, fucker.

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