Burst Apart, the new album from Brooklyn trio The Antlers is a journey through a gothic Southern nightmare where nothing is certain. Images of teeth falling out, loose knots, drunken one night stands and loyal dogs being euthanized reinforce the themes of tentative devotion and eventual betrayal that The Antlers do so well.
One of my concerns with Burst Apart was that, because it’s not a concept album like Hospice, their previous album, I wouldn’t find the songs compelling. This is never a problem on any of the ten songs. Sure, there are lulls, but they serve to build tension and suspense. It was only on my fifth or sixth listen that I realized that “Tiptoe” is an instrumental. Each song conveys an atmosphere that is both exclusive and cumulative. It’s the same kind of thing you see in a collection of short stories.
Another concern that had troubled me was the drone. On Hospice, The Antlers had sewn a middle-pitch drone into all but two or three of the songs. The drone was about the same volume as Peter Silberman’s falsetto, so I was forced to turn the volume up in order to hear the lyrics, but quickly back down each time he hit a high note. It created a stress that actually helped solidify the tension of the story, but I hoped it wouldn’t find its way to this album. And it hasn’t. Silberman’s voice sounds gorgeous and the lyrics are perfectly clear.
Burst Apart is the kind of album that rewards repeated listens. The songs are simple, yet chilling. The Antlers aren’t breaking new ground, but they do find ways to cultivate a much-tilled soil. At the end of the day, Burst Apart won’t be one of those, “Where were you when you first heard this?” albums, but not every album can be. This is a solid album from a band whose best days are still ahead of them.
The Antlers - Putting the Dog to Sleep from Burst Apart