Listening to The Antlers isn’t for the faint of heart. Their music is heavy sometimes, their lyrics are dense and even dark. The focus is creating sonic masterpieces, not mainstream chart toppers. On their 2009 breakthrough, Hospice, the Brooklyn trio created a dark, personal album that revolved around the events of the death of singer Peter Silberman’s friend and his own personal feelings and experiences during this time. On 2011’s Burst Apart, The Antlers took a more synth-pop approach, focusing on dreamy textures and mesmerizing rhythms underneath Silberman’s brooding lyrics. Where Hospice was melancholic and, to a degree, harrowing, Burst Apart was more upbeat and positive.
In between, they produced a couple of EPs that were somewhere in between Hospice and Burst Apart. Now with Familiars, Silberman, Michael Lerner, and Darby Cicci have taken another step in their discography of atmospheric albums. The soaring instrumentation and the clever, dense lyricism remains. However, the introduction of horns has the band move away from digital sonics to a more symphonic tone. The result is a more sprawling, fascinating landscape of sounds, textures, and layers. With Familiars, The Antlers have achieved what artists like Patrick Watson have strived to create – a resounding, hypnotic, indie-rock album that could be mistaken for a musical composition. “Doppelganger”, “Hotel”, and “Revisited” best exemplify this new sound.
But the atmopheric, dreamy numbers remain. “Palace”, the opening number, starts off subtly before building to its soaring climax with the added horns making you feel like you’re floating in air. “Director” and “Refuge” are smooth, smoky, melancholic songs in the mold of Sade’s music during the peak of her career. Meanwhile, “Intruders” and “Parade” are Brooklyn-inspired indie rock tracks – melodic, slightly catchy tunes with just the right amounts of guitar play a la Grizzly Bear.
While the album only has nine tracks, it comes in at over 53 minutes. It is a gorgeous album, and one that requires your full attention to truly appreciate the mastery at work.
Familiars comes out on Tuesday, and it is available for pre-order on iTunes, Amazon, and The Antlers’ Official Store. The Antlers will be commencing a tour this week, beginning with a show at Rough Trade in New York before traversing the United States and Europe throughout the summer. Tour dates can be found here.
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