Written By: Sebastian Barnum
Label: Frenchkiss – Rating:
Even though they remain relatively unknown, The Antlers are going places. Between releasing the album that their loyal fan-base has been waiting for roughly 2 years, and touring behind indie up-and-comer “Minus the Bear,” it’s safe to say that The Antlers have something special about them.
There newest full length album “Hospice” is the first studio album that Peter Silberman (the bands founder) has had band mates on. While recording his first album, titled “In the Attic of the Universe,” Silberman did the album alone and released it under his own name, having originally decided the band would be a solo project. However after that, Peter Silberman joined up with Michael Lerner on drums, and Darby Cicci on keyboards. The result was a set of EPs, titled “Cold Wars” and “New York Hospitals.”
The Antlers new album is an orchestrated masterpiece. It begins with a song adequately labeled “Prologue” which is essentially the departure point on your journey of emotions that the band attempts to take you on. As the beginning of the album revs up with a beautiful tapestry of sci-fi sounds, and gentle keyboards. A listener quickly gets sucked in to a repetitive dance of melody and madness as “Kettering” starts. “Kettering” shows the final product of the prologue as you are racked with the writers emotions and thrown into their world of sorrow and confusion. Listening to the song was, putting it mildly, redeeming.
“Sylvia” is somewhat of an out of place moment in the album. It follows the mellow opening of the album with what reminds us of an awful dial-up internet connection. However, once you get past the intro of the song, the music seems to explode into what resembles U2 before they became mainstream. It’s comforting to be gifted the realization that innovation isn’t dead.
“Antrophy” is in my opinion the milestone of the bands masterpiece. It’s an eight minute journey through the bands past, which leads you to realize the way they wish a future might be. After soft quiet verses that resemble a guilty man going to a confessional, it begins to build, until you’re so anticipant of what comes next that it almost itches. Finally, after over half the song is over, it seems to be shuddering, and the chaos of childhood trauma is clearly illustrated.
The albums first single “Bear” reminds us of childhood innocence. With lines like “We’ll drink champagne although we shouldn’t be,” and “I don’t see how we’re too old,” Peter Silberman pleas for peace again. Speaking about childhood trauma, dysfunctional adults, and attempted suicide, you would expect this concept to be a huge mistake. However The Antlers handle it with ease and poise. With persistent drums, and music all set in a major key, it’s somewhat puzzling to have such happy music be the medium for such a sad story.
This album is relentless. From soft exploits such as “Thirteen,” “Epilogue,” and “Shiva,” and explosions of raw sound like “Wake,” “Two,” and Sylvia” you can get everything you might hope to from a concept album. The songwriting is spectacular, the orchestration superb. However there is always one major flaw within an album and that is that the vocals are less audible than you might want.
Regardless I can’t help but feel like if the band never wrote another song, they could be proud of a musical success like “Hostile” for the rest of their lives. Peter Silbermans directions of melocholly concepts, and musical fluxuation brought this album full circle. Even though it is a concept album, and could’ve fallen apart at so many different places, they made it work. Bottom line… I’m impressed. I give this album 3 out of 4 guns.