The Antlers: Burst Apart
Posted at 3:05pm, 6/24/2011
After their 2009 release of Hospice, many of us impatiently awaited the arrival of The Antlers' next release. Upon listening to Burst Apart (May 2011), it is abundantly clear that there is no replicating such an album, though the band could not have returned on a better note.
Instead, Peter Silberman, Michael Lerner and Darby Cicci seemingly decided to avoid many of the things that made Hospice so astoundingly popular. Their old sound is replaced by a noticeably more well-rounded and experimental arrangement, while keeping with the constant intense emotional feel on their previous releases.
The difference is that this emotion does not only come from Silberman’s unparalleled lyrical prowess, though it is still one of his strong suits. Simplistic lyrics contrast with an intense emotional meaning, as in "Every Night My Teeth Are Falling Out" where Silberman laments,
"One bad night I’ll hold the glass until the glass can hold me down, And one bad night I’ll spill and spill until my feet begin to drown. One bad night I’ll hear you calling me to help you not pass out. You and I, divine but not devout, Every night my teeth are falling out."
However strong his lyrics have stayed, Silberman’s vocals are toned down, the one element that weakens this album in comparison to its predecessor. Brief stints of his gut-wrenching vocal bursts are sprinkled in various tracks, like "Corsicana," but his lyrics tend to get lost in the light, dreamy tone he tends to take on in Burst Apart. But when he does let loose, it is ever as moving as before.
While Silberman’s vocals slightly weaken the album by taking a backseat, the musical accompaniment lifts the album out of possible obscurity. The experimentation and breadth of tonality in Burst Apart far exceeds that of Hospice, with a catalog that contains pop-like songs, like “I Don’t Want Love,” and mixes them with the hauntingly poignant songs, like “Parentheses,” that they mastered in Hospice.
There is more life and energy within the music itself, ultimately giving the record a more balanced dynamic than when Silberman was the focal point in previous years. The instrumental "Tiptoe" stands completely on its own, with bellowing horns and ghost-like reverberated "oohs," showcasing a more musically diverse and experimental band than the one we once knew.
The album ends on a high note, where we hear Silberman lyrically and vocally at his best, singing, "Well my trust in you is a dog with a broken leg, / tendons too torn to beg for you to let me back in." Accompanied by increasingly intensified reverberating guitar riffs and ambient noise, this song exemplifies what has become the essence of The Antlers.
- Kara Henderson