I fell in love with The Antlers in the strangest way. They were the first band on the bill for Madfork 2.0 – a Madison lakeside mini-fest that snagged artists playing Pitchfork in Chicago the same weekend. I got downtown late, so as I was walking to the venue I could hear the strains of The Antlers floating through the city streets. The closer I got the clearer the sound and the stronger the pull, and by the end I was literally running to get to the lake. When there were finally no buildings between me and the stage, I stilled and listened, enraptured. I didn’t bother to find a seat or my friends until their set ended and I had a minute to snap out of the reverie. It’s rare to have such an immediate, all-encompassing love for a band, and even rarer to find this feeling with every live show and the records as well. Burst Apart fails me not; by the first chorus of the first song I had that familiar feeling of ecstatic suffocation.
Said song “I Don’t Want Love” hits hard and fast, the guitar propping up the lyrical notion of walking away. We’ve all got that mistake we’ve made again and again and eventually stopped making – this is the sound of that mistake echoing in your head.
A beautiful album front to back, Burst Apart is chock with good songs. “Parentheses” is dark and sinewy, perfect movie music for an international spy thriller. “Hounds” is slow and dreamy, and is followed by the restrained beauty and soft sadness of “Corsicana”. There were three songs I listened to for at least an hour on repeat, though. The aforementioned “I Don’t Want Love”, “No Widows”, and “Putting the Dog to Sleep”.
“No Widows” is a really gorgeous piece; it’s like trying to run through water, or like being submerged in a dream. Singer Peter Silberman’s crystalline ‘oohs’ cut right through you as Michael Lerner’s drums nip at your heels and Darby Cicci’s carnivalesque synth trails you at every turn. Album closer “Putting the Dog to Sleep” takes its melodic slant from the ever-popular 50s prom ballad motif. Instead of teen angels or nights at the drive-in, though, Silberman sings of the painfully real issues of trust, love, and messes both emotional and physical.
The Antlers make music that is so sad and visceral that I want to lay in bed for days, but is at once so beautiful and moving that I can’t possibly do anything but go out and live.