BEST OF 2011: 18. The Antlers – Burst Apart

I didn’t get ‘Hospice’ at all. I thought it was sub-Arcade Fire histrionic drivel. I’m not an awful lot more kind about it now, if I’m honest. But this really is not ‘Hospice’. Peter Silberman’s vocals are still largely falsetto and the subject matter is not much more cheery, but the music, oh, the music! Consensus seems to be that it takes more than a casual listen to love ‘Burst Apart’, although I think plenty of its charms are on show from the off. Certainly, once your play count is in double figures, you’ll have it on your list too.

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The stuttering, shuffling drums of ‘French Exit’ demonstrate the languid, skulking tone at the heart of ‘Burst Apart’, telling the listener that they may not know this person as well as they think. ’Parentheses’ crackles along, with vocals like a Wild Beast in recently washed jeans and menacing guitar bursts offering a general coating of unease. They were aiming for “spooky” and they seem to have achieved it.

However, there remains a lightness of touch across ‘Burst Apart’ which makes for a far less oppressive listen than ‘Hospice’. Towards the end of ‘I Don’t Want’ Love’ the sound of Jeff Buckley cooing from the more soulful elements of ‘(Sketches For) My Sweetheart The Drunk’ makes a welcome return, concluding a wonderful pop burst to open proceedings. Then there’s ‘No Widows’, a gorgeous, dubby piece with a serene gloss added to a trippy, endless rhythm section.

Woozy instrumental ‘Tiptoe’ sets the scene neatly for the twinkling ‘Hounds’ which tracks the paranoid troubles at the heart of a relationship and slowly withers in on itself around a mournful trumpet figure. ‘Every Night My Teeth Are Falling Out’ builds to an anxious crescendo without the need for the histrionics which are briefly unleashed on album closer ‘Putting The Dog To Sleep’, which seemed to be the one track prone to criticism in initial reviews. After a few plays, it seems a fitting, sprawling, soulful end to an album which truly rewards anyone willing to spend some proper time with it.

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