For many, The Antlers’ Hospice still carries that fresh new feeling where it tidily lies between cult classic and massively underrated gem. Sure, there’s a convinced affinity in being able to love something that fits under a sheltered area that is hard to find and to this day, Hospice remains one of the strongest ‘indie-rock’ albums of the past five years. Those stories, encircled and written around a fractured time in frontman Peter Silberman’s life were deeply personal and moving. They presented a vastly dark world to step in and get lost in, while still prevailing through a sordid story. Fortunately, their latest release is a generous shift in tone to a devastating alternative world that while not as mysterious as before, is every bit just as breathtaking.
It’s effortless to note the sprawling territory the band has covered with Burst Apart’s towering new highs. It’s not as if the band has ever been without success as Hospice remains dear to many hearts; but it’s also necessary to note that although this new album is much clearer, it’s exclusively incredible. Silberman for starters, sounds better than ever with a compelling set of vocal lines that lend the songs a remarkable new instrument. The desperate, distressed feel of “Every Night My Teeth Are Falling Out” comes from both the meshing of Silberman’s voice as he cries out for help, while the band crashes around him. The influence of Thom Yorke can be heard but with a modern wildness that almost recalls Cedric Bixler-Zavala. And on the opening, almost U2-like style of “I Don’t Want Love,” Silberman casts an optimistically bleak cloud through a resonating declaration. It’s a wonderful way to introduce the world to a bright new sound and a bright new album – there is life after the hospice.
Even on songs where Silberman is left to take a breather in favor of some reflective quietness like on “Tiptoe” and its meditative demeanor, the sounds are discreetly radiant. Especially once the clarity of “Hounds” permeates every crevice with a resounding magnificence, there is remarkable skill in the band’s seamless growth. They sound far more assured than before and they’re flexing a true muscle that showcases what an outstanding follow-up really sounds like. For The Antlers, the music evokes a magical feeling and happily, their sounds are always stunning.
Back in 2009, in an interview with DOA, Silberman noted that “Being your own label is insanely time-consuming, but I think bands should do it as long as humanly possible.” Obviously since that time The Antlers have gone on to play huge festival gigs, as well as opening for one of the best current bands around, The National. In that time, the humanly possible step was to sign onto a label and swiftly, artists like Shara Worden are found under the guest list. Worden’s vocals are the sparkling star on top of the almost metallic clutter of “Parentheses” as she takes the lead away from Silberman for a dazzling performance. The guitar’s shimmer – again, like something out of the Edge’s playbook – is a slight change from the otherwise hushed rock of Hospice but with polished new production, Burst Apart is a soaring beauty.
And it doesn’t take long to realize that Burst Apart is all about, just as its title portrays: exploding and rupturing, separately. Once you’re in the restful groove of “French Exit,” it’s evidently clear that The Antlers are covering a whole new spectrum this time around. So while many try to figure out what it all means, it’s best to purely take in the dissimilarity of this exceptional new album in contrast to Hospice – it’s downright astonishing on its very own.