Brooklyn-based indie rock band The Antlers have released their new album, entitled Burst Apart; to follow is an exclusive review by one small seed contributor Adam Alexander on this new release from The Antlers… Enjoy, and keep posted for more reviews by Adam.
Signing with Frenchkiss Records in 2009, the three-piece band has since played at the 2010 Primavera Sound Festival in Barcelona, 2010′s Osheaga Festival in Montreal as well as Chicago’s famous Lollapalooza, also in 2010. The force behind the music is guitarist and lead vocalist Peter Silberman, Michael Lerner on drums and Darbi Cicci on keyboard, trumpet and banjo.
Burst Apart follows 2009′s Hospice, the album The Antlers are best known for. That album was at times quiet to the point of fading into the background, and at other times abrasively noisy, often during the same song. The songs were of a high quality, but you couldn’t help but feel that you might be missing something, either in an almost inaudible whisper or swallowed up by echoing lo-fi pollution. But while their style may have taken some getting used to, it was still a great album that was very warmly received.
I mention that Hospice was a bit rough around the edges because Burst Apart is a more polished album, easier on the ear. It contains some moments of brightness that were not found in the bleak themes of fear, melancholy and loneliness of Hospice, but the new songs still aren’t exactly radio-friendly, catchy pop tunes.
The album opens with ‘I Don’t Want Love’, which shows the band’s new sound, with soft vocals and an orchestral feel to the instruments. Already we see the band making good on their intention to expand their sound, adding more colour to the grey despair of Hospice. Second song ‘French Exit’ follows suit, with lovely little snare drums and echoing softness that would have been out of place on Burst Apart’s predecessor.
Lead single ‘Parentheses’, with its howling vocals and background sirens; the sweeping instruments and falsetto of ‘No Windows’ and ‘Rolled Together’s haunting, floating ambiance, as the background noises come closer, filling up the song as it builds to a climax, turn the album into a more soporific and somber affair. With ‘Every Night My Teeth Are Falling Out’ the album becomes lively again, before the next three songs, which are solemn and sparse, with a far-off beauty to them. The album then ends with ‘Putting the Dog to Sleep’, because what’s a bigger bummer than the euthanasia of a loyal pet? That’s the kind of theme The Antlers write their songs about.
It was always going to be difficult to please all fans with a follow-up to Hospice, reproducing what made those songs special but without trying to make the same album, which would surely have turned out be just a cheap impersonation. They have made some noticeable changes to their sound and there is no doubt that some fans will feel that Burst Apart doesn’t quite compare to its predecessor, but there’s no doubt that it too is a fine album which beautifully captures the angst of being a flawed person, which we all are. Here too are the dark themes, spooky quietness and surreal lyrics with which the Brooklyn-based trio established themselves, but on what is a more colourful album. I mentioned earlier that it isn’t a MTV or radio-friendly album, because that’s not their style. Their music doesn’t catch your attention and make you, as my sister would say, ‘crank it up’, but if you take the time to listen to their music, you will hear why The Antlers are such a treat.
Words by Adam Alexander