Hospice, The Antlers' debut opus, was the Brooklyn trio's passport out of obscurity. Frontman, Peter Silberman, enticed listeners into his meticulously sculpted narrative by using his parable of an abusive relationship. Listening to the album offered the audience an artistic experience that is habitually absent in modern music. Like reading a Paluhniuk, or watching a Lynch, the conclusion of Hospice baffled and tickled the subconscious. To follow-up their tremendous creation, The Antlers elected an alternative, musical route. Their second full-length, Burst Apart, lacks the anecdotal concepts of its predecessor. Sequels are a risky trade, as a flop would question the integrity of the original. The Antlers weren't trying to create their Godfather II, and so their latest detaches itself from the acclaimed chronicle. Similar to The Antlers' efforts, let us isolate ourselves from the original, in order to examine Burst Apart from an unbiased perspective.
The Antlers wrote Burst Apart without a planned objective, and stated that they, "let the songs grow organically." The songs are saturated with Silberman's towering falsetto and glistening guitar. Musically, the artists constantly toy with your multi-sensory perception. In "French Exit", tones shift and grow from yawning gloom to incandescent brilliance. There is an energetic element throughout most tracks. The pairing of Silberman's operatic voice with intricate post-rock instrumentation leads to songs like "Parentheses" and "No Windows" closely resembling Wild Beasts and Radiohead. There is a sense of urgency and alarm within the melody of "Parentheses". Equilibrium bending tunes like the vocally absent, "Tiptoe" induce a cosmic journey. But there's something missing...
Eventually, the ability to avoid comparison to Hospice dissolves, and without restraint the missing elements begin to dilate. Though songs like "I Don't Want Love" and "Hounds" are undeniably, moody ballads, both with appealing layered vocals, they, however, lack the purpose of the earlier work. Of course some of the songs possess attractive features, but without the gripping narrative, it's a hazy journey.
Silberman's howls are much better utilized as storytelling tools. His multi-ranged falsetto can deliver an additional punch to the emotion of a single word or phrase.
To discredit The Antlers entirely would be irrational. Burst Apart simply isn't as cohesive as Hospice. Tracks like the melodic "Corsicana" maintain their own, individual significance. A concept album requires a considerable amount of selflessness, and The Antlers shouldn't be faulted for adopting the common technique to conceive their latest. Hospice is evidently about Silberman's dying friend, and an experience like that shouldn't have to be endured again for the pleasure of cynical fans.