Drea Smith and Tim Nordwind are no strangers to music. Smith functions as one half of Chicago duo He Say She Say while Nordwind plays bass in OK! Go, a band that also got its start in the windy city. Though their roots are similar, it took a digital meeting for Smith and Nordwind to come together and form PYYRAMIDS.
A mutual friend introduced the duo via email and before long, songs were being passed back and forth via the same medium.
“I started sending her [Smith] skeletons of songs and she’d send back lyrics and vocals. In eight months we had about three or four songs via email. We met and liked each other and it just organically grew from there,” Tim Nordwind tells the Appeal.
A shared love of early ’80s British post-punk heavily inspired their debut EP, Human Beings. The digital divide removed an essential human element to their music, which they quickly noticed when playing live shows. “It’s definitely been a process trying to communicate that energy,” Nordwind says.
Those performances made for instant inspiration and a way to further that energy in the form of their first full-length album, Darkest Brightest Days. The dark, psychedelic haze that makes up Human Beings gets a sleek makeover and a highly relatable subject: love and making it work.
“It speaks to the super high points and the super low points of a relationship; how at times it feels in and out of control. We encapsulated that theme of struggling to find something more,” Nordwind explains.
“Every time you talk to a friend when they’re in a relationship, it’s never, ‘Oh yeah, wonderful, great, we’re getting along just fine!’ I don’t know if it’s a period of life, but it’s a story to tell, fighting for a relationship and whether you should or shouldn’t.”
Darkest Brightest Days was recorded in Nordwind’s basement and kitchen and with the help of fellow OK Go! bandmate Dan Konopka and prolific producer Dave Fridmann. “We ended up in my kitchen for part of the recording because my basement had flooded,” Nordwind says.
“The kitchen was a cool change of scenery because A) it was closer to the fridge, and B) we had a new environment and more sunlight.”
Darkest Brightest Days functions as an inherent dichotomy, its name, much like its message, a conflicting musical catalyst. Tracks like “Don’t Go” and “Paper Doll” wax poetic over skips of guitar arpeggios and heavy bass syncopation. Smith’s voice comes on like a fever dream, intoxicating at each turn. Their live show has been ramped up even more, adding three more members and cranking up the dynamics.
“It’s a mix of lo-fi and hi-fi elements. We’ll have these finely produced beats go up against acoustic guitars,” Nordwind says, “I love that tension. It brings the right blend of emotions.”