Review Summary: it's like i can't stop drinking; everytime i try i can't stop thinking
Cooped up in a depressing New York apartment for a winter, Peter Silberman found nothing better to do than write music. He created coldly atmospheric music that captured the essence of his loneliness, of the cold weather, and of being separated from and possibly forgotten by his family and friends. Thus, The Antlers, a mostly-solo project that features minimal help from some of Silberman’s friends, and Hospice
, his recently released second album, was born.
Sound familiar" Sure, Justin Vernon didn’t record his indie-folk near-classic For Emma, Forever Ago
in a city, but that album’s themes of loneliness and heartbreak mirror ones found here. Hospice
is even being self-released (at first), just like For Emma
was, although that similarity is probably the most coincidental of all these obviously coincidental similarities. Point is, For Emma
eventually caught fire, due to a re-release through Indiana-based label Jagjaguwar and massive critical acclaim from every reputable music periodical under the sun, and the same could very well happen to Hospice
. God knows this record deserves it; Silberman has crafted an incredible album here, one that earns and deserves all the attention it can muster.
is a sad record, especially lyrically, as Silberman mostly pens tragic tales of heartbreak and regret, often using carefully constructed metaphors without ever falling into clichés. It’s a dreamy record too, taking influences from ambient and shoegaze albums to separate itself from the usual indie-rock norm; there’s as much Tim Hecker here as there is Win Butler. Hospice
is named such for a reason: the dreamy soundscapes and swells of “Thirteen” and others induce the kind of wistful images that you’d imagine when terminally ill, or terminally heartbroken.
“Kettering” introduces the listener to Silberman’s vocals for the first time, or, in other words, “Kettering” introduces the listener to the best aspect of Hospice
for the first time. Silberman’s vocals warrant all sorts of comparisons-- personally, the comparison that holds the most water would be calling him a mix of Jeff Buckley and Andrew Bird-- but if he’s letting these get to his head, then he’s not letting it show. His vocals are wildly dynamic, reaching in ranges that are certainly Buckley-ish, and the minimalism of songs like "Wake" give plenty of room for Silberman to work his magic. Silberman never sounds like he's showing off, though, keeping simply using his range to add wide-reaching dynamics to Hospice
. Sure, he can be a little dramatic on the climaxes of “Bear” and “Two”, but no pretense shows through; Silberman just comes across honestly, a serious sadsack with a seriously phenomenal gift.
can be lush and dreamy, but it can also rock. Hell, some songs are even optimistic and a bit grandiose, such as "Bear" and "Two", which makes up the more rollicking middle of the album. “Bear” is essentially a four-minute climax that finds Silberman singing confidently, especially near its louder, rollicking end, pounding the song’s massive melodies with soaring falsettos. “Two” is a bit more excitable, entering with flourishing acoustics before electric instruments take over; Silverman picks up the volume and dramatics as the music does the same. It’s a surprisingly upbeat song, one that dismisses dusty skeletons with a ‘fuc
k-it’ kind of grimace, looking forward with forced optimism. It’s the kind of special track that plays in your eternal radio station for days.
The melancholic stylings of the acoustic dirge of “Shiva” and the dark, hopeless beginning of “Sylvia” (that song picks up steam, but reluctantly, never rising above its depressing prologue; it delves back into full-depression-mode for its coda) are some of the best moments of Hospice
. Silberman’s at his best when he’s feeling bad: his lyrics are a mix of self-loathing and self-forgiveness, and they aren’t so obvious that they’re instantly relatable; you have to work to get some personal sentiment out of them. That’s okay; it’s obvious Hospice
is an album Silberman made for himself, one that we’re just privileged to listen to and enjoy. So sit back, listen, and consider yourself lucky, punk.