Album Review: The Antlers’ “Burst Apart”

The Antlers Burst Apart

It’s been two years since the Antlers released their phenomenal third album, Hospice, and a year-and-a-half since I wanted to curl up in a ball and cry for the next week after listening through it. Ever since the needle lifted off my record player, I wondered what the Brooklyn trio would do next–how they would follow such a haunting album that had already defined their career.

Peter Silberman (vocals/guitar) and company developed a signature sound on Hospice, easily identifiable by sparse guitar arrangements, spacious soundscapes courtesy of multi-instrumentalist Darby Cicci, and Silberman’s unique, hesitant falsetto. While this trifecta was crucial in underscoring the sheerly devastating subject matter of the album, I worried that a formulaic sound would prevent the band from attempting to go in a new sonic direction with their follow-up, Burst Apart.

A prolonged but small organ swell is the opening sound on Burst Apart, and by the time Silberman plays the chord progression for “I Don’t Want Love,” the album’s first track, it’s apparent that this is still the Antlers. Same soundscapes, same guitar tones, same falsetto. Yet something is very different about this album; perhaps it’s the increased usage of drummer Michael Lerner. Lerner was prominent on certain tracks on Hospice, but he is a driving force on Burst Apart, reinstating the “rock” in indie rock, however slow the tempo may be. And trust me, the tempos are slow. Burst Apart never rises above a melancholy feel, but that’s the beauty of this record, and of the band overall.

Silberman’s lyrics are sparse and generally sad or pensive, such as the content of “No Widows” (“If the wheels jump off the road / There’s no widows left to know”), although they are nowhere near as heartbreaking and bitter as the content on Hospice. He still relies on long sections of falsetto vocalizations to tie the songs together, along with generous amounts of organ chords and trumpet lines from Cicci.

The album ends on a note about as upbeat as the Antlers can muster. Deceptively titled “Putting The Dog to Sleep”, the final track deals with the pending seriousness of a romantic relationship. Silberman asks the woman in question to “Prove to me that I’m not gonna’ die alone,” as the dialogue goes back and forth throughout the song, raising doubts as well as giving reassurances along the way.

Burst Apart signifies an emotional departure from Hospice while maintaining musical consistency with the band’s trademark ambiance.  The sparse instrumentation produces an enormous sound.

-Sam Clark

Related Content: New Video and Free EP Download From The Antlers

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  1. […] Related Content: Album Review: The Antlers’ “Burst Apart” […]

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