When the Antlers released their jaw-dropping 2009 album, Hospice, it stood out from the rest of the indie rock albums of that year. It raged with a kind of raw emotional energy that is rarely seen in this modern era of hipsterism and over-inflated irony. Hospice was a breathtaking masterpiece that managed to be sonically huge and strikingly intimate all at once. It was quite simply one of the best albums of the past decade. Now, after two years of touring behind the success of that album, the Antlers have released their follow-up album, Burst Apart. While the two albums are worlds apart, Burst Apart stands its ground against its legendary predecessor, and manages to be its equal.
What struck me most on my first listen of the album was just how different it was from Hospice. The emotional realism has remained, but the band has taken on a decidedly more polished, electronic sound.Frontman Peter Silberman’s voice and intensely personal lyrics are as moving and as beautiful as ever here.
There’s a hypnotic splendor to Burst Apart that grabs the listener from the beginning. Opening track, I Don’t Want Love is musically straightforward but emotionally complicated. It’s a fantastic opener that makes you fully aware that this sure as hell isn’t Hospice 2. French Exit and Parentheses establish the album’s grooving poignancy. Arguably one of the stronger tracks on the album is No Widows, an entrancing electronically infused song brought to life with hauntingly cryptic lyrics. Rolled Togetherbegins as a quiet chant before building to a gorgeous crescendo with Silberman’s soaring falsetto leading the way.
Every Night My Teeth Are Falling Out has a jaunty, rhythmic jam session feel that brings to mind the works of Radiohead while remaining unique to the Antlers. Tiptoe offers an atmospheric intermission with a evocatively reflective tone. Hounds leads the listeners back out of that ethereal space carefully edging us back into the final songs of the album. Corsicana is an elegiac ballad with a distinctly doomed mood.The album closer, Putting the Dog to Sleep is the most heartrending Antlers song since Hospice’s Wake.With its seemingly fifties inspired guitar and elegiac organ it’s a dreamy heartbreaker that finds Silberman belting out his most inspired and soulful vocal performance singing, “Put your trust in me / I’m not gonna die alone / I don’t think so.” And keep in mind; the Antlers consider this to be their most lighthearted album.