Review Summary: Bear with me.
You know, artists are a very strange category of people. Often, they will aspire to fill a blank sheet of paper with color in every possible nook and crannie. Professional art will usually not have juvenile white specs. What I, in contrast, look to understand is BEFORE the success of the art piece itself -- what could an artist be thinking before any of the space is filled? A blank sheet of paper is very powerful. The possibilities are virtually endless. I suppose this is why said people love art so much; no emotion is too difficult to express in visual art. This feeling, the feeling of endless possibilities, is present on The Antlers’ debut album, ‘Uprooted.’
This blues-y, joy-ridden Peter Siberman's first record is comprised of simple ideas, tortured vocals, jangled folk guitars and a very, very quiet atmosphere. From the perky melodies on the opening track to the haunting chanting on the conclusive one ("I feel like I'm sleeping and I can't wake up...") this album seems to portray raw emotion perfectly. This is most audible on track 2, "Keys", where the singer is constantly singing "I can't sleep in the waiting room... I can't sleep on only one leg..." The falsetto in which he sings in is most haunting and bittersweet and the music behind it certainly doesn't help to decrease it. "It Seems Easy" is very good at this, bearing melodic vocals but almost scary atmosphere, and is also a very good song. Thus The Antlers are very good at displaying raw emotion.
That said, it IS only RAW; I would typically praise a band for being able to be like this. But here, it is so underdeveloped and immature that I can't help but think that this musicality and lyrics was wasted for this album, and the rawness is merely incidental. Had they waited to release this album, it would've been a bit better... Or would it be?
Here's when my original idea comes into play; the empty canvas is all too visible on this album. 'Uprooted' feels like fluff half the time -- the songs are OK, but they are not memorable. "Stonethrower" shows this perfectly. An anthemic folk song, great lyrics, great melody, but what about afterwards? I never remember a song on this album. "Nashua" is possibly the most generic blues song I've ever heard, with boring lyrics and guitar riffs. "Flash Floods Don't Retreat" is boring -- the song is utterly aimless. I don't even get the point of shoegazing "Last Folk Song", and the title track is near terrible. I really tried to like 'Uprooted', but in the end, it's just another folk album.
But here's the catch: what does a canvas look like after it has been painted over? Anything. And that's what this album was. The music may not be GREAT, or even GOOD, but this was a good starting point for the band. They can become anything at this point. 2/5