The AntlersFamiliars
  • SUNDAY, JUNE 22, 2014

  • Posted by: Jason Wien

Brooklyn based soundscape-rockers, The Antlers, have come a long way since vocalist and guitarist Peter Silberman morphed his bedroom solo project into an extensive full-band setup. When the band emerged in 2009 and marched its way to popularity with their heavily praised debut Hospice, fans were instantly drawn into the minimalist form of indie-rock that the band had to offer. The record was a darkly sonic and a deeply sentimental collection of songs that acted as flawlessly together as they did on their own.

Then they released Burst Apart(2011), an album that practiced the art of deliberately slow-paced lo-fi pop perfection — a sound and structure that had the band dipping their feet into foreign waters. At first it was difficult to grasp the change in quality between the albums: Hospice remained so essential to the troubled 20 year olds' hazy dorm room record collection, while Burst Apart was so easily forgotten. But, like many things do, the record grows on you over time. The songs that we couldn't stand to listen to more than once became the infectiously fervent tunes being set on repeat. It was at that point that The Antlers shifted in our heads from the mournful bedroom indie band that plagued the subconscious like a Darren Aranofsky film, to a ceaselessly courageous band that never planned to settle for a one-dimensional single sound.

Now, as the Antlers release their fifth studio album Familiars, their sound has taken a more elaborate route. Compositionally, everything swells and pulses with subtle brass and ivory — a significant change from Hospice, which used the silence within each track to develop the emotional tension and build-up. Their lyrics, which at one point fixated solely on the death and illness of a close friend/loved one, now expose a new side to The Antlers: a certain desire for growth. In the jazzy track "Intruders" Silberman sings: Maybe when Im older/I'll be clearer more attuned and understanding/well I'm ready/I wrote a list of my demands and then I burned an older version.

It is a great triumph to be so engulfed in death and sickness and then to emerge with an album that perfectly reflects such difficult times. With Familiars, The Antlers emerge no longer as a band with a moody embrace and sorrowful narrative, but as a band that demands redemption, a band that acknowledges the morbid past and plans to grow from it. That's exactly what Familiars is: it's not a complete change in direction, like what Burst Apart was to Hospice, it is the polished version of something they've already created. Sure, without the gripping narrative seen in the previous albums one might be turned away, but The Antlers are attempting to prove that they're more than just a somber three piece collective with a rough past, and the truth is that listeners should be happy about this. Any growth and maturity from The Antlers is a great step for a band that clearly went through some seriously messed up shit early on in their career.

Familiars should not be thought of as an end-all album. It'll hardly make your head turn and it won't help The Antlers sell out stadiums or headline festivals. In fact, chances are you'll say the same thing we said when we first heard it, something like, "oh boy, get ready for a tearjerker." However, those willing to sit and listen to the album as a whole will be rewarded with a beautifully daunting experience only The Antlers could deliver so flawlessly.

Check out "Hotel" from Familiars below and purchase the full length on the band's website




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