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Too Close To Touch Unveils Final Album ‘For Keeps’: A Tribute to Keaton Pierce

For over ten years and through two full-length albums, the post-hardcore group from Lexington, Kentuccky, Too Close To Touch, has consistently garnered acclaim for their masterful musicianship and detailed compositions, showcasing the technical prowess of each member. Serving as the heart of the band was the cherished frontman, Keaton Pierce, whose unexpected passing in 2022 from complications related to acute pancreatitis left fans reeling.

by Lyndsey Byrnes

Following Pierce’s tragic loss, many never anticipated experiencing his voice and evocative lyrics again. Today, March 8, they present their ultimate, incredibly special album as a band, For Keeps, serving as both a farewell gesture and cherished memento for both themselves and their fans. “To be able to give it closure is a blessing,” drummer Kenny Downey explains. “To have this much of him left, his lyrics and emotions captured… not a lot of people have that.”

Derived from a collection of incomplete and previously unreleased tracks, For Keeps was brought to life with the assistance of producer Erik Ron (known for his work with Panic! At The Disco and Motionless In White) and close friends from The World Alive, Bad Omens, and Cane Hill. Ensuring the preservation of Keaton’s legacy, the band honours him for the powerhouse vocalist, frontman, lyricist and person that he was.

The album kicks off with the opening track “Novocaine,” featuring Bad Omens. Noah Sebastian, the frontman of Bad Omens, has consistently lauded the influence of Too Close To Touch and Keaton Pierce in shaping his singing and songwriting style. In various interviews, Sebastian has expressed admiration for Pierce’s vocal prowess and creative mind. In a now-unavailable Instagram post, removed following Sebastian’s departure from social media, he expressed: “He (Pierce) had one of the most captivating and powerful voices and minds in the music scene and I can honestly say I was one of his biggest fans, lucky enough to call him a friend.” This friendship instils the track with added sentimentality and significance for fans, as it underscores the profound impact Pierce had on both Sebastian personally and Bad Omens as a whole. No one could be more appropriately suited for the album’s first track, setting the tone for what follows—a tribute to someone who was not only an amazing artist but also a cherished friend and exceptional individual.

For their song “Novocaine,” the band has unveiled a touching tribute video featuring clips of Pierce in the studio, singing, immersed in his passion alongside those closest to him, whom he loved and who reciprocated that love. The video alternates between montages featuring Pierce and scenes of the band joining Noah Sebastian to perform their hit song “Sympathy.” As Sebastian introduces the song, he expresses his love for Pierce and you can tell that stepping in for Pierce meant everything to him. The vocals he delivered would have made Pierce proud.

One of the standout tracks to follow is “Heavy Heart.” This track is the classic acoustic essential to every hardcore album, guaranteed to tug at the heartstrings of listeners. The acoustic arrangement highlights Pierce’s vocals, making the track that little bit more special as it highlights his unforgettable vocals. The song explores the themes of anticipation for someone who never shows, as well as the sleepless nights plagued by unrequited love. It perfectly captures the spirit of early 2010s punk, sure to become a favourite among fans.

“Designer Decay,” featuring Cane Hill, is undeniably set to win over fans with its remarkable blend of powerful and intense screams, showcasing a modern metalcore approach. This track is truly exceptional,especially for those who appreciate heavier sounds. The powerful and robust drumming seamlessly merges with the intense screams, creating a track that’s a major head-banging experience. Similar to Bad Omens, Cane Hill shared a friendship with Pierce and all of Too Close To Touch. Knowing that these collaborations extend beyond mere professional connections to close friendships, adds a layer of beauty to the album.

The album ends with the track “They Don’t Even Know,” an upbeat, catchy yet emotional track that delves into the feeling of being mentally overwhelmed, while others are oblivious to the struggle. Personally, I see this track as ambiguous, open to various interpretations such as being addicted to a familiar feeling or struggling to ask for help. This diversity in interpretation is the beauty of music. The album’s conclusion couldn’t have been more perfect, highlighting the band’s musical prowess, particularly Pierce’s vocals.

This album is incredibly special. It deserves to be played repeatedly – in your car, with your friends, alone, and everywhere in between – to fully absorb the vocals, lyrics, and the sheer talent that permeates every track. This album stands as an everlasting homage to Keaton Pierce’s legacy and compels you to lose yourself in every second. Savour each song, every beat, and every riff. Rest easy, Keaton Pierce.

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