The Antlers started out as the solo project of Peter Silberman. He later brought in two collaborators and that move spawned 2009’s beautiful Hospice. Now Silberman & Co. are back with the follow up Burst Apart.
Hospice was dark, melancholy, lo-fi and an intense experience for the listener and, you got the impression, songwriter too. The same mood, and emotional palette seem to be rife on the new album, but gone is the lo-fi, and gone is the pain. I don’t mean that the emotional struggle is gone, more that this album feels effortless, unstrained, and unrestrained in its production, as if committing it to ‘tape’ was much less of difficult process.
The music itself on Burst Apart is just as haunting, delicate and intricate as before, but delivered and presented with more confidence. There are beautiful highs of soaring falsetto, pulsing synths and solid drums, but somehow this album still feels like a progression, move forward, a definite statement of intent. Perhaps, its the freshness, or maybe its just the lack of an obvious and harrowing story being told, as in the case of Hospice.
In all this movement towards the accessible, Antlers have created quite a few ‘poppier’ moments; ‘Every Night My Teeth Are Falling Out’, and ‘French Exit’ are positively upbeat. There is also more of an electronic heart beat flowing through this album. Some of the drum loops though originally played by tub-thumper Michael Learner I’m sure, have been sequenced and altered, to the extent that ‘No Widows’ feels almost like a dance track. The vocals are just as intriguing and and beguiling as on the album that brought them to fame in the indie presses, but this time straying a little more towards the sound coming from Wild Beasts.
Hospice felt exciting, new and pulled the audience in to its own world and took you on a journey, it was reportedly about the writer’s own painful emotional experiences all wrapped up into a continuing concept album. This time there is no such enveloping, no sense of being party to feelings and interpretative sounds that are personal.
This album is much more a collection of songs, by a band, not a narrative, not a journey. I don’t know if that’s why Burst Apart isn’t as enchanting, or perhaps the band’s relative fame has robbed them of the aesthetic that brought them into the foray in the first place. Burst Apart is good, but perhaps suffering from an age old journalistic and musical cliché; it isn’t their second album, but it is their second offering since the world caught onto The Antlers, and it just isn’t as engrossing, or as powerful.
Released on 6th June 2011 by Transgressive Records