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Burst Apart
The Antlers Burst Apart
Released 3 June 2011
Producer The Antlers
Label Transgressive Records
Length 41:08
Genre Alternative
Website antlersmusic.com

Stemming from the ultra chic Brooklyn scene one doesn’t expect the sort of depressed euphoria that The Antlers produce. Their previous outing Hospice was tied rightly or wrongly to the concept album bracket and delved deeply into the unlikely subject of terminal illness. The new album Burst Apart is just as dark but has a free flowing nature that may have been lacking on their first full length release.

Themes of love, sex and death hardly conjure the magical grandeur that Burst Apart has in abundance. Main writer and vocalist Peter Silberman continues the lush progress that has seen The Antlers gather a healthy cult following. The album starts wonderfully with giant stabs of indie pop melody making. 'I Don’t Want Love' with its yearning vocals and shimmering guitar, produces an ideal set up for the atmosphere of the entire album. Allied to this perfect indie harmonics is 'French Kiss' which merges its Vampire Weekend drum sound with a swooning synth texture and overdubbed falsetto to produce a brilliant mix of the maudlin and ecstatic. 'Parenthesis', released earlier as an album taster, is powerful in its clattering drums and drones leading to comparisons with the modern Portishead. The execution of angelic vocals with drilling atmospherics completes a trinity of high quality numbers that has a pop melody and groove firming stapled to its shadowy heart.

There is a slight change of tact in the guise of 'No Widows' which is less immediate than its predecessors but just as bewitching. The band is in essence a dichotomy as they are at once open and warm musically and yet prone to introspection. This track is fundamentally influenced by the better end of eighties electro-pop but is very much a modern creation in instrumentation and structure without succumbing to trendiness. Just as Silberman’s vocals and lyrics define the band, their interesting musical shifts mark them out as well, no more so than on 'Rolled Together'. This is pitched like an Air track as its trippy synth sound melds together with a high pitched mantra that floats above the lushness. All the elements come together in a storm of noise near the middle of the track as cascading guitars wrangle into the mix and carry the song home.

'Every Night My Teeth Are Falling Out' showcases the vocal yearnings of Silberman as lost love and frustration comes brutally to the fore. "You and I divorced but not devout". This may be a bit of a heart wrencher but doesn’t quite have the same atmospheric skills that have served the previous tracks so well.

Again the band’s instrumental powers come to fruition as they create a mixture of a slow gothic lullaby and something close to the feel of Mercury Rev’s Deserter’s Songs on 'Tiptoe'.

One of the highlights on an album of highlights is 'Hounds'. This has a real lighter in the air experience about it. Structurally it builds like a slow Mogwai tune, the twanging guitars and slow drums increase in tension as a sweet soulful vocal and mournful trumpet glide along softly at the end. This is a shoegaze re-appreciation par excellence and wouldn’t be out of place in Galaxy 500’s catalogue. 'Corsicana' is another lamenting ballad with a stark reverb vocal driving it across cavernous guitars. The bittersweet is at its height here and a feeling of a comedown is compounded as the album draws to a finale. "We should hold our breath with mouths together".

Maybe that was the perfect way to end such as dark and thrilling album but they found room for the most clinical song in the set 'Putting The Dog To Sleep'. This doesn’t really fit with the rest of the album but it’s a good tune all the same. Short stabs of guitar play around with a mournful piano and an overwrought lyric. It ends on a sorrowful but defiant tone, "Put your trust in me, I‘m not gonna die alone". This may be the only poor choice on an album full of interesting and fully formed ideas and emotions.

No difficult second album here just sheer joy. Burst Apart is definitely a collection of songs to be reckoned with and is sure to feature high on any end of year polls. It has a magical lamenting tone and is nearly perfectly consistent in its song approaches and melodies. Hospice may have made people take notice but it is with this album that The Antlers will be truly born as a band to be looked up to.

- Tim Gannon