Under Review: The Antlers – Burst Apart

The concept album has hardly gone away since its theatrical peak in the 1970s. More and more bands as around today whose entire output is comprised of elaborate, often continuing storylines. Brooklyn trio The Antlers broke through in 2009 with their own musical arc, Hospice. The songs detailed a tumultuous relationship through the analogy of a malevolent patient and her caretaker who eventually succumbs to a kind of Stockholm syndrome. Though leader Paul Silberman has remained obscure as to the intricacies of his creative process, his latest offering proves to be even more revealing than that acclaimed document. Though Burst Apart doesn’t follow a specific story, its songs convey a sense of carrying on and acceptance. Silberman, though dramatic and sentimental, is never afraid to often bluntly express his desires in his songs. Opener “I Don’t Want Love” begins with the line, “You wanna climb up the stairs/I wanna push you back down,” yet he consistently comes across as the victim in his gradually dissolving romance.

Musically, Burst Apart is the chilly electronic counterpart to Hospice’s folky-rock. There is warmth in some of the songs, especially the mantra-like “Rolled Together.” Drummer Michael Lerner and keyboardist Darby Cicci make songs like “Every Night My Teeth Are Falling Out” and “French Exit” stunning in their richness and depth. With so much attention being paid to Silberman’s lyrics, it would be easy for Lerner and Cicci to phone their parts in. They don’t, of course, and their playing gives Burst Apart just as much character as Silberman’s words. The Antlers close the album with “Putting The Dog To Sleep,” in which Silberman’s emotions alternately embodying the terminal pet and its exhausted owner. The album’s closing lines, “I’m not gonna die alone/I don’t think so,” trail off in ominous uncertainty. Gentle as their music can be, The Antlers are definitely not a band for the faint of heart.

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~ by E. on May 26, 2011.

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