I knew so little about The Antlers when I headed down to Pier 54 at Yishai’s suggestion to catch their free show. He had seen them open up for The National and liked what he heard, but I had only just heard of them. I hadn’t been to a concert in months and it was a gorgeous evening, and even though Elana wasn’t able to come and Yishai wouldn’t be showing up until later, I decided to go solo and check out the show for myself. What I remember most is the enduring thump of the bass drum that shook my chest throughout the show, as the album they were supporting, “Hopsice,” would later make my heart tremble once again, with lyrics that were a little too close to home.
And for the rest of the summer, I listened to the album on and off. A musical “Hospice” that mimicked both the beauty and ugliness of the real-life hospice that was set up at my house. But it wasn’t just the lyrics that spoke to me. It was the music. Peter Silberman and the rest of The Antlers were able to truly evoke feelings of sadness, grief, loss, and pain through the mere notes of the music. Maybe it was that the album had a recurring them running through it, like a classical piece or The Who’s “Quadrophenia.” Maybe this theme recreated the monotony of everyday life, which suddenly looks beautiful when one is faced with mortality. Whatever it was, the album was both beautiful and haunting, and still is.
Fast forward about 6 months, when “Burst Apart” first leaked. The most important aspect of the music on this album is Peter Silberman’s voice, followed by the drums. His high falsetto pierces your heart as the drums unceasingly pound it. It’s not that they’re too loud or fast. Maybe they’re just miked (sic?) perfectly. But there’s a clear effect of this beautiful contrast of an emotional tug with a physical tap.
I could go through the album song by song, but Peter Silberman already did that. I could explain to you in vivid deatil of exactly why each song is amazing, and why each lyrics changes the game. But that would be tedious and boring, and would take a lot of the fun out of music and why we love it.
So I’ll leave it at a few things.
- Parenthesis sounds like it could’ve been a track on The Bends. Not as in: “They totally ripped off Radiohead.” Or even: “This song sounds 15 years too late.” But as in: “This song sounds ridiculously good and well crafted and it’s having the same effect on me that The Bends should’ve had on anyone who first heard it in 1994.”
- Having recurring nightmares about losing one’s teeth sounds hilarious until you realize that Mr. Silberman is entirely serious when he says “I used to have a lot of dreams about my teeth falling out, which I’m told are anxiety dreams.” At which point, the song turns slightly scary, and one’s imagination turns to the prospect of losing all of your teeth. And so, we have a detailed phobia that each of mind’s fleshes out in full, and thus the song title has managed to paint quite the vivid picture. And that’s before even listening to the song.
- Putting The Dog To Sleep is just a beautiful song. Unbelievably beautiful. Some would say it’s depressing and not a great song to dance to, but I think it’s perfect. I have no idea what it’s about (though I’m pretty sure Peter probably says something about it) and I’m almost definite that it isn’t about putting down a dog.
So, the album is fantastic. And you should listen to it. Here’s a track to whet your appetite.
The Antlers – Putting The Dog To Sleep