The Antlers – Burst Apart

written by: May 18, 2011
Release Date: May 10, 2011


Those expecting The Antlers’ newest album to be a sequel to their heart-wrenching breakout album, Hospice, will be sorely mistaken. Those willing to overlook a dramatic change in mood will find that Burst Apart, while perhaps not as emotionally engaging as Hospice, takes The Antlers’ sound in a direction that is surprising and surprisingly natural.

Hospice was a rather noisy album; its tragic tale of loves lost was perfectly complemented by bouts of fuzz, fevered scratches, the sounds of emotional collapse. With Burst Apart, listeners will find most of that noise stripped (though not removed entirely), leaving an album with a little more breathing room and, surprisingly, a little more funk.

The album opener, “I Don’t Want Love” starts the album off pretty similar to the band’s earlier work (with the exception of a slightly greater emphasis on drums and the aforementioned noise reduction). But that soon changes with the second song. With “French Exit,” the band starts to show off some of their new tricks: an increased focus on swinging baselines, some jazzier, brush-reliant drumming and syncopated vocals. It’s a definite change from the noisy post-rock of Hospice.

While this change may sound like blasphemy to hardcore fans of The Antlers’ breakout hit, it works well. Frontman Peter Silberman’s haunting upper-register vocals mesh perfectly with rolling basslines and upbeat percussion to form a unique genre mash up of indie rock and jazz/funk.

“Parentheses” quickly establishes a groovy bassline before building into something that sounds like it could be used for the intro to a James Bond movie. Other highlights on the album include “Rolled Together,” in which Silberman’s airy vocals whisper an anthem over beat-poetry drum brushes and a danceable rhythm. “Every Night My Teeth Are Falling Out” proves that the band hasn’t forgotten their roots by ending on an explosion of searing static, fantastically combining their new sound with their old. The songs that emphasize the band’s new style end up being the best on the album.

Oddly enough, the album’s most forgettable songs are the sad ones. The slow track “No Widows” is technically sound, but sort of just floats on by, like an intermission between “Parentheses” and “Rolled Together.” That said, “No Windows” does a good job fitting in with the rest of the album: its laid back melancholia matches the flow that the first half of the album worked to establish.

And the album’s flow is one of its greatest strengths. Though some songs are happy and others sad, each melts nicely into the next and each maintains a mood, tone and style that unifies the album. Every song on Burst Apart is unmistakably a part of the whole.

This isn’t to say the album is static; there is a definite progression as the album continues. The latter half of the album turns down the funk a little and slowly becomes more haunting, more ethereal and more emotionally intense. Tracks like “Tiptoe” and “Hounds” slow things down, add a somber trumpet into the mix, and make for a poignant build-up to the excellent finisher that is “Putting the Dog to Sleep.” It’s a natural evolution over the course of the album and never feels forced.

Burst Apart may not be the album fans were expecting, but it must be celebrated for taking chances with a new sound and for being so successful in its overhaul of the band’s dynamic.

The Antlers – Burst Apart Tracklisting:

  1. “I Don’t Want Love”
  2. “French Exit”
  3. “Parentheses”
  4. “No Widows”
  5. “Rolled Together”
  6. “Every Night My Teeth Are Falling Out”
  7. “Tiptoe”
  8. “Hounds”
  9. “Corsicana”
  10. “Putting the Dog to Sleep”