The Antlers is an independent band from Brooklyn, NY. Front man Peter Silberman was the original member before his band expanded in numbers, and the transition was shown to be very smooth with the release of their only concept album at this point Hospice. The Antlers hit a rough patch with some of their previous EP’s in between Hospice and Burst Apart, but from there on they have shown much progression in style and quality. Their fifth album, Familiars, was released on June 17, 2014; and as one who is versed in the Dream Pop style, my mind was completely blown.
The Antlers have reinvigorated the Dream Pop style to fit their Alternative background. The album starts out with a very melodic opening track, Palace; the vocals in this track are very reminiscent to Hospice’s big single Two. From there the album then begins to give you a distinguishing atmosphere where it meshes this familiar bleakness and mood swings from Silberman’s vocals. Each track bounce off each other with smooth transitions, and the way they composed the track listing shows how they can perfectly craft a story in a condensed album.
Atmosphere has always been key with The Antlers, especially in their earlier work. When Silberman was riding solo, his album In the Attic of the Universe exuberates atmosphere out the ass in a tonally oblique way; but in Familiars The Antlers boost their vocal volume to balance both. In the Attic of the Universe was Silberman meshing atmosphere and ambience with some hard-hitting alt-rock tracks. The album is lyrically cohesive and his delivery demonstrates such.
As the album progresses past its melodic base, The Antlers then bring in a lot of other instrumentations into the mix, with the addition of a few more strings, some brass and rhythmic percussion. Michael Lerner’s percussion is one of the fundamental aspects of this lengthy nine-track album. He uses subtle snare hits and some heavy bangs when needed. His rhythm is key when the tracks transition as well.
This shows that The Antlers have acquired their distinctive sound and it’s far different from what you’d see from the likes of TV on the Radio or Grimes; the latter of which is more dream-pop-electronica. And while they retain their distinctive sound, it also has its faults. The one song that has yet to grow on me is “Refuge.” The song sounds more obtuse then the other songs. The atmospheric tone is thrown away slightly for a more alternative base that doesn’t seem to fit with the ghostly space rock type of feels you want to retain. Technically it sounds too overt for it’s own good.
This album’s atmosphere also takes some influence from Gaspar Noe’s trippy opus Enter The Void. The film’s score has an intense approach to it since it’s shot through a POV of someone on DMT; but the melodies and spacey type of guitar strums seem to be the focal point when comparing these two. If you watch the scene where the lead trips on DMT you can see where the influence comes from and how the Antlers smoothly interpreted it in their own way.
The album, Familiars, is a great addition to their cannon. It also shows that you never want to play the Antlers unless you like them, cause their depressive tone could truly kill someone’s vibe.