The Antlers - Undersea | Album Review | By Volume

The kid that went down isn't dead; he just can't find his phone. The Hold Steady - Almost Everything

The Antlers


Greater depths and new heights.

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Author: on July 26, 2012
July 24, 2012

From haunting narratives, through lush arrangements, and now to this underwater mellow-out, I have to ask the question on nobody’s lips: what the hell are the Antlers? Because for all their cred and all Peter Silberman’s songwriting talent, you’d think they would be comparable to… well, something. And yet, here I am, listening to Undersea and wondering what this whole world is, that’s permeated an album as heavy as Hospice and as light as Burst Apart without conceding ground. Undersea has its own aquatic atmosphere, and an absolutely gorgeous one at that. Unlike Hospice, these songs don’t flee from under the weight of their premise or narrative. They’re loose, ambient, drifting in and out of simple structures. But Peter Silberman still sounds absolutely miles away.

It is the first time the Antlers’ desire to carve this ethereal and wispy aura has sat comfortably with the scope and context of the project. In spite of all its deserved acclaim and every lyric we can’t quote because it’s too depressing, Hospice could have been a folk-punk album. Its best songs were the more direct ones, which is not to say that the meandering sections of some songs didn’t add to the whole in a way that’s impossible to really gauge, but the distinction between gut-wrenching moments and atmospheric ones was never fully realised. Here, removed by enough years and with no desperate tragedy to make sense of, Silberman and his colleagues are at liberty to turn the foundations of their music on their head, and form four gorgeous tracks around the sound rather than the argument.

And man, is it beautiful. Closer “Zelda” sinks leisurely into a groove; “Endless Ladder” takes its sweet, sweet time, and there’s absolutely no rush. Everything is drenched (water metaphors, whatever) in enough reverb to make Burst Apart sound gritty, and the mesmerizing swirl shapes a beautifully-mixed, and aptly-named, EP. This is the Antlers reaching new heights, all by letting themselves sink to greater depths.

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