The Antlers
In the Attic of the Universe


5.0
classic

Review

by SowingSeason STAFF
December 5th, 2016 | 116 replies


Release Date: 2007 | Tracklist

Review Summary: I'm out of words.

In the Attic of the Universe is a brilliant blend of extremes. It is majestic but humble, physical yet ethereal…everywhere and somehow nowhere all at once. It’s totally organic, running its course over twenty seven stunningly gorgeous minutes without the slightest care towards marketing technique or album norms. In the Attic of the Universe is rooted in the moment, but its implications stretch towards the most intangible of horizons. This is The Antlers’ forgotten record; one of the most intellectually expansive and unflinchingly beautiful indie-rock albums of all time.

It’s appropriate that this record got buried in the wake of Hospice, because it's far less emotionally intense and is literally half the length. While the celestial voice of Peter Silberman proves equally powerful and agile in spurts, the primary difference between In The Attic of the Universe and Hospice – and all other Antlers’ offerings for that matter – is the instrumental atmosphere. Nowhere else do we witness the band craft a world so profound and alluring that Silberman’s talents actually take a back seat to the music, but that’s precisely what happens here. From the fast riffing on ‘Look!’ to the starry, wondrous chimes that glisten across ‘Shh!’, the band concocts an aura so warm and awe-inspiring that it’s a challenging feat to catch your breath while taking it all in.

This spellbinding quality lends In the Attic of the Universe its undeniably profound nature, as if every hushed falsetto by Silberman holds some kind of key to the universe. The sprawling soundscape exists on an otherworldly plane of mesmerizing ambiance, and it’s enough to veil the vocal contributions in a shroud of mystery. Take for instance the icy, piano-laden opener ‘In the Attic’, where Silberman sounds as though he’s singing to us from another room while acoustic guitars and thumping drum beats beckon us to come closer. There’s also the hushed croons and wispy oohs of ‘In The Snow’, which effortlessly blend instrument and voice into one airy, chill-inducing atmosphere. There’s a level of fusion here that isn’t present on later outings by this band, and it feels like a fleeting moment in time that came and went all too quickly. Those who like The Antlers slightly less polished and a little rougher around the edges will cherish what are now wrinkles in the band’s long-established fabric, and they can be found throughout this experience.

Despite its comparatively granular composition, In the Attic of the Universe feels less like a building block to future successes and more like “the album that got away.” For as underrated and unnoticed as it seems to be with respect to their entire discography, In the Attic is easily their most effortless, even-flowing concept album. Centered around the ideas of space and time, it is wholly philosophical and existential by nature. On the closing ‘Stairs to the Attic’ – a song that begins with meek acoustic strumming but erupts into thunderous percussion - Silberman ponders the meaning of life itself:

Everything had opened wide
Into the jaws of something bigger
And suddenly I saw that I was
Upstairs and outside and freezing on the roof
Finally it had found me
The answer, the feeling, and the truth:
That I'm small
That I'm small
That I'm small
I'm smaller than the smallest fireball

For as comparatively downturned as Silberman’s vocals are on this album in general, he turns the dial all the way up during this track’s climactic moment, which coincides with his realization that he is but a speck upon a speck in the grand scheme of the universe. Even the musical contributions play into the concept quite well, as the instrumental track ‘The Carrying Arms’ features reversed instrumentation to conjure a cyclical feeling. From start to finish, The Antlers create an absolutely ideal portrayal of what it feels like to stare into the stars and ponder the significance, or insignificance, of everything.

In the Attic of the Universe is likely one of the best albums you haven’t heard. Even longtime fans of the Antlers tend to overlook this release based on the sheer strength of Hospice, Burst Apart, Familiars, and the Undersea EP. It’s a shame, but at the same time it makes connecting with this album all the more intimate. It may appear to be a bit of a flash in the pan clocking in at under thirty minutes, but even the blink and you’ll miss it length somehow makes it more endearing because you can fit a listen in at just about any time. Standing as The Antlers’ indie-cred album, In the Attic of the Universe is perfect in its own plethora of ways – even if it will never be recognized as anything more than a humble beginning.




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user ratings (252)
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“Universe was made to sound huge inside something small, or small inside something huge, depending...


Comments:Add a Comment 
SowingSeason
Moderator
December 5th 2016


24841 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

300th review - I thought about going big and doing a massive review, but I kind of like this idea too. This album is so quaint and personal, and has recently become not only my favorite album from one of my favorite artists, but also a classic in my eyes. This review is quaint and personal as well. Enjoy, here's to (gulp) 300 more reviews?

Digging: Billy Corgan - Ogilala

Ebola
December 5th 2016


2842 Comments


Great write-up as always. Congratulations on 300!

Spacesh1p
December 5th 2016


7025 Comments


Good stuff. Coding error at the start of the third paragraph but otherwise a nice read.

Digging: Echospace - Liumin

FullOfSounds
December 5th 2016


15527 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

YES

FullOfSounds
December 5th 2016


15527 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

"This spellbinding quality lends [i[In the Attic of the Universe[/i]"



Otherwise amazing review

FullOfSounds
December 5th 2016


15527 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

"From start to finish, The Antlers create an absolutely ideal portrayal of what it feels like to stare into the stars and ponder the significance, or insignificance, of everything."

I fucking love this line so much

minty901
December 5th 2016


3541 Comments


hospice is a lot better imo but i still love this.

theBoneyKing
December 5th 2016


12337 Comments


Congrats on 300 Sowing! Amazing review, as usual.

I've never checked this band before but based on this I'll make a point to start here instead of Hospice whenever I do so.

Digging: Destroyer - Kaputt

FullOfSounds
December 5th 2016


15527 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

You will definitely love this band Boney, kinda surprised you actually haven't heard em yet

Artuma
December 5th 2016


29060 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

boney will 5 the shit out of burst apart

theBoneyKing
December 5th 2016


12337 Comments


I thought Hospice was their generic 5?

Artuma
December 5th 2016


29060 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

it is and that's one of the most powerful albums i've ever heard but idk you might not love it immediately

FullOfSounds
December 5th 2016


15527 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Boney this album also fits your "Best listened to at 3 AM, lying in bed, lights out, headphones on."

Artuma
December 5th 2016


29060 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

that's not really the kinda setting i'd jam this in tbh

SowingSeason
Moderator
December 5th 2016


24841 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

lol, I always write my summary at the end



"that's not really the kinda setting i'd jam this in tbh"

I actually think that's pretty much the perfect setting, that or really any place at night or alone

theBoneyKing
December 5th 2016


12337 Comments


@Sounds that's my description for a National album, I don't really get the sense from this review that this has quite that same vibe

Artuma
December 5th 2016


29060 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

"I actually think that's pretty much the perfect setting, that or really any place at night or alone"



nah, not really a nocturnal or lonesome album for me

FullOfSounds
December 5th 2016


15527 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I think it's perfect. Just sit reflecting and lost in the space that Attic of the Universe creates

Artuma
December 5th 2016


29060 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

album is way too dynamic for that imo. actually i feel this album does so many things well but it's hard to find a mindset where i'd listen to this instead of some other album

SowingSeason
Moderator
December 5th 2016


24841 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

It's dynamic but it's also really beautiful and ambient. I think it works on a lot of levels.



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