Review: “Burst Apart,” The Antlers

The Antlers strive for accessibility on their fourth LP.

by Joseph Kleinschmidt

âÄúBurst ApartâÄù

Artist: The Antlers

Label: Frenchkiss Records

The AntlersâÄô runaway success with 2009âÄôs âÄúHospiceâÄù provided a grim insight into the story of a terminally ill patient falling in love with a hospital worker. For a bandâÄôs breakthrough to be defined by a concept album, the harrowing record seemed to be completely singular.

As serious a concept as bands could possibly dissect, âÄúHospiceâÄù proved a vastly difficult work to follow. Fans attached to the vivid catharsis of âÄúHospiceâÄù will be disappointed in the absence of a sequel to the critically acclaimed record. âÄúHospice IIâÄù was never in the works for the Brooklyn band.

âÄúBurst Apart,âÄù The AntlersâÄô newest album, strives to detach the bandâÄôs ties with the success of âÄúHospiceâÄù in hopes of expanding the bandâÄôs sound outside of the clinical setting.

Wholly intimate and emotionally draining, their previous album contrasts greatly with the new release. Where âÄúHospiceâÄù sounded ethereal and remote, âÄúBurst ApartâÄù finds immediacy; railing guitars accompany vocalist Peter SilbermanâÄôs falsetto in indie rock tradition.

Songs like âÄúEvery Night My Teeth Are Falling OutâÄù and âÄúParenthesesâÄù exemplify the albumâÄôs title, raising the bandâÄôs most searing rock into the foreground. With more accessible hooks, the album sounds less like a cohesive whole compared to âÄúHospice,âÄù not necessarily a misstep.

âÄúFrench ExitâÄù sounds relaxed and unhinged, devoid of the pain and guilt riddled in their 2009 breakthrough. Accessibility proves to be powerful in terms of individual songs, yet âÄúBurst ApartâÄù fails to provide a cohesive whole. Any attempts in creating another concept album may have only raised more comparisons to âÄúHospice,âÄù so âÄúBurst ApartâÄù clings on song by song rather than fulfilling the grandiosity of the former release. The highs and lows of âÄúBurst ApartâÄù do not compare with the scale of âÄúHospice.âÄù

Soaring anthems still provide the collection of songsâÄô huge wall of sound, all backed by airy vocals harkening back to fellow Brooklyn indie rockers Grizzly Bear. Heavy filtered guitars still pervade the bandâÄôs sound, but listeners work less for the stunning climaxes The Antlers became known for.

SilbermanâÄôs lyrics still ruminate on darker themes, albeit the up-tempo guitar riffs accompanying the otherworldly vocals. His vocal range offers glimpses into The AntlersâÄô future, abandoning the light falsetto for more callous tones apparent throughout the aforementioned song, âÄúParentheses.âÄù

 âÄúBurst ApartâÄù reminds listeners of âÄúHospiceâÄù without culling up the same emotional paradigms. The AntlersâÄô new work brings out heavier sounds, but also less evocative ones. Still, The Antlers break ground with âÄúBurst Apart,âÄù purposely avoiding any mourning for their former release.

 If âÄúHospiceâÄù was the untimely, funeral, âÄúBurst ApartâÄù represents a cognizant departure two years later. As eerie this exit might be in the wake of the 2009âÄôs tragic account, The Antlers conjure warmer sounds in celebratory, yet also conscious tones.