Hospice was a strange record. The first record featuring The Antlers in their current, trio alignment seemed to come onto the scene fully formed. And yet Burst Apart manages to be just as surprising without suffering the major lulls that marred Hospice.
Take, for example, "Hounds," which establishes a subtle rhythm with lightly strummed guitars and layered vocals. A new voice calls from somewhere on occasion, sounding appreciably closer to the listener to lovely effect. The true shock comes maybe two-thirds of the way through the track, when a lonely horn appears and it feels so natural, as if this was the one thing "Hounds" had been missing all along. Burst Apart is full of the best kind of moments: those that make one's heart leap with surprise and yet feel totally necessary.
As with Hospice, the lyrics aren't for the faint of heart. These are stories of sickness, death, and violence, but they're told so beautifully in Peter Silberman's delicate voice that they end up being so insidiously catchy that one may walk through the grocery store singing about leaving one's gun at home. Explaining that the lyrics come from a song called "I Don't Want Love" is unlikely to smooth anything over.
Despite their potentially problematic lyrical content and adventurous instrumentation, The Antlers never stray too far from what's familiar. In fact, this is what makes Burst Apart so unnerving (which is one of the music's chief pleasures). The same way that a zombie is terrifying because it's so familiar, yet without the same rules, or the way a post-apocalyptic movie thrills by showing landmarks changed by a shift in the world around them, The Antlers take what we've come to know and bend it just enough that we take a moment to recognize the change, and by the time we do, they've already moved on. (www.antlersmusic.com)
Author rating: 8/10
Average reader rating: 9/10
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