Review Summary: Winter's over.
In an interview with Pitchfork this past January, Antlers frontman Peter Silberman related something Frightened Rabbit’s Scott Hutchinson had told him about performing deeply personal material: “It’s the audience’s now. You’ll sing it to them, but they’re the ones singing it. You can let it go and give it to them.” It’s hard to imagine Silberman standing up night after night and going through Hospice’s
litany of heartache, an album that was painful even for an uninterested listener, not to mention the guy who suffered through its creation. Hospice
was the Antlers’ landmark record, but it was also like reading the darkest entry in Silberman’s diary, feeling more like his own bottled up, smothering anguish and less like the work of a band. In short, it was the kind of one-off masterpiece that can’t be repeated, and who would want to? Burst Apart
, then, is the sound of Silberman letting go: “You can put it on and not feel like it [had] to be a severe emotional experience.” It also feels, in many ways, like the record the Antlers the band were always destined to make, one that feels much more the product of a groupthink that one man’s tortured relationship.
was the expunging of a sea of ugly feelings and thoughts that Silberman had to get off his chest, a lyrical bloodletting so painfully autobiographical even those with no knowledge of the album’s back story could instinctively feel. Burst Apart
is the sound of a man at ease with that past, willing to let his bandmates grow with him and expand on their sound. The production is fuller, lush psychedelics competing with biting guitar riffs and cavernous drums, Silberman’s falsetto rising more often with joy than in sorrow. The record is looser, more at ease with itself; no longer are Silberman’s lyrics the main catharsis behind everything. The instruments do much of the heavy lifting here, painting a picture on opener “I Don’t Want Love” even more triumphant than the defiant lyrics (lyrics that gladly spit in the face of Hospice’s
woe-is-me theme), all sparkling guitars and major key harmony. But while Silberman’s emergence as a songwriter who can occasionally be happy is notable, it’s the Antlers’ growth as a band that makes Burst Apart
such a successful follow up. The lilting, minimal ambience of “Hounds;” the jazzy drumming and hazy atmospherics on “Rolled Together;” hell, “Parentheses’” hypnotic groove and jagged guitar riff sounds like the best song Radiohead forgot to put on OK Computer
. It makes for a record that lacks the emotional artillery of Hospice
but is the far more interesting beast sonically.
Many will criticize this album for not being the next Hospice
. That would have been impossible, but to see the Antlers grow as they have on Burst Apart
is heartening. Nowhere has Silberman’s falsetto sounded so strong and confident as on the experimental pop of “Every Night My Teeth Are Falling Out,” or when he uses it as just another instrument on the ethereal “Hounds.” The band’s transition from the walls of sound in “Parentheses” and the almost trip-hop feel of “No Widows” to a softer, more rock-centric vignette in “Corsicana” would have seemed absolutely ridiculous in 2009. But it works, compensating for Silberman’s desire not to verbally cut himself with a mature sound that seems capable of going anywhere. It’s a happy medium, one that seems like it will fit the Antlers far better in the long term than Hospice’s
once-in-a-lifetime journey. Lest you think the Antlers’ have become just another pleasant indie band, consider closer “Putting The Dog To Sleep,” a hauntingly beautiful track that speaks to the end of a relationship as good as any lyric Silberman has penned. “Well my trust in you / is a dog with a broken leg / tendons too torn to beg / for you to let me back in,” Silberman sings as a guitar heavy with reverb punches through the fog, ending with a line typically unsure: “Put your trust in me / I’m not gonna die alone / I don’t think so.” It’s a harkening back to the Antlers who won so many people over by being brutally open, but at the end of a record like Burst Apart
it sounds like a band capable of so many things, confident in sharing joy and heartache equally. It’s an album you appreciate not because you have to, but because you want to.