The Antlers have been a pet favorite of mine ever since the release of the exceptional Hospice in 2009. The release of Burst Apart last year further affirmed my believe The Antlers are one of the most exciting bands to be following in the world of music right now. Where The Antlers have thrived and found their success on Hospice and Burst Apart lies in the almost compulsive production. Peter Silberman, the band’s main creative force, has made a mark on The Antler’s two proper albums by delving into the most minute details of the band’s sound.
That being said, the release of last year’s EP, Together, left a lot to be desired. The execution of Together made me a little nervous about how their newest EP, Undersea, would turn out. Together is a completely different animal compared to Undersea though. Together was a collection of alternate versions of songs from Burst Apart, along with one unreleased track from those sessions and a completely unnecessary cover of “VCR” by The xx. Together just didn’t bring a lot new or interesting to the table, other than maybe the addition of Nicole Atkins vocals on the Burst Apart track “Hounds”. Undersea, on the other hand, is a cohesive collection of four new tracks in a nice little package.
The biggest knock on Undersea is going to be that it meanders more than Hospice or Burst Apart, but I think that may be what is most interesting about it. The attention to detail is there, but every track builds itself nicely to fruition, not unlike Burst Apart’s loosest track, “Rolled Together”. It’s a gentler pace Silberman and company work with here, while also being extremely literal with the name of the album and the songs.
The strongest track on Undersea is the 8+ minute “Endless Ladder”, whose name could not be more apt. Based around a Nine Inch Nails-esque beauty of a keyboard piece, “Endless Ladder” is a classic “builder”. The distortion, and lilting build that progressively includes all the instruments doesn’t present its first lyric until over two minutes into the song. By the time Silberman’s voice pierces the looping arrangement, it is a cathartic experience. The lyrics are as cryptic as ever, but that is one of the things about The Antlers that makes them so easy to relate to. They give you a well-crafted template of poignant lyrics, and allow the listener to fill in the blanks with however it relates to them.
“Drift Dive”, “Crest”, and “Zelda” follow a similar pattern, although aren’t as lengthy. Both also somehow manage to be perfectly named for the way they make you feel, and “Crest” actually has a distinct Radiohead feel to it. And yes, I did just compare the production of Undersea to Nine Inch Nails and Radiohead in the same review. But that is how strongly I feel about The Antlers going forward. It is only a matter of time before they capture that massive audience and play stadiums. If not, that’s cool too, because I can continue to see them from the first row in 500 person capacity venues.
Can’t Miss: I enjoy all the tracks, but “Endless Ladder” is the clear best for me
Can’t Hit: none