Review Summary: Like a weightless, hate-less animal - beautifully oblivious
If The Antlers aren't crafting gorgeous atmospheres, then they probably aren't making music. For as much attention as front man Peter Silberman gets for his otherworldly vocals, the backdrop has always been the definitive quality of each successive Antlers work. This was never clearer than on Burst Apart
, where the band took the timid strides gained on Hospice
and expanded that instrumental influence to compose their most full-bodied, dynamic album to date. The more the band flourished, the more one could feel Silberman settling comfortably into his niche – as opposed to running the entire show. And call it a controversial statement, but this is the best thing that has ever happened to The Antlers.
You could even sense it on the Undersea EP
– a release that distinctly foretold the artistic direction of Familiars
, if not because of jazz-laced moments like "Crest" , then definitely because of the fashion in which Silberman effortlessly blended his vocals with the music. At times, it was as if his voice was nothing more than another instrument – making its contributions to the larger picture, the magnum opus. Familiars
follows in the same vein, fostering the synthesis of his angelic voice with majestic horns, airy piano notes, and weightless percussion. The beauty of this marriage is that he still holds the ability to come forth and deliver a knock-out, awe-inspiring blow whenever he feels moved to do so. Opening track "Palace" is one such instance, as Silberman's talent soars far beyond anything else that can be heard, making for one of the most brilliant songs on Familiars
. There are intermittent power surges such as these, but it is the balance between his breathtaking vocals and the rich musical atmosphere that makes this record such a success – on all musical levels.
If Burst Apart
was a resplendent big bang of ideas, then Familiars
is admittedly the calm that follows. With that there is something left to be desired, as the record never truly vies
for our attention. Instead, it draws us in with its smooth, milk-and-honey jazz that constantly borders on the ethereal. There's a completely fulfilling aura that surrounds Familiars
– perhaps because it sounds nothing like a product of three musicians and more like a natural progression of something much grander. To some extent, Familiars
could be about relinquishing control. Silberman's selflessness has resulted in a far more cohesive musical output, one that – if we would completely let go as listeners – would carry us wherever our minds desired. For The Antlers, it's as if they have no say. They are merely clinging to driftwood, offering their perspective as the tide pulls them further out to sea. To immerse yourself in The Antlers’ music is simply to go along for that ride, relishing the gorgeous soundscape as you gradually float away towards the horizon.