Far from the dark, twisted cries of Hospice and more in line (at least in sound) with The Antlers sophomoric effort, Burst Apart, comes Undersea, a hybrid, four-track EP deemed by frontman Peter Silberman to be the band “closing the door” on their at times dark past.
And maybe so; what Hospice lacked in production, Undersea more than makes up for in its aqueous sound. What Burst Apart drowned in its mellifluous melodies, Undersea intertwines brilliantly, allowing the faltering falsetto of Silberman to carry each track through to its end without ever getting lost in the tumbling synth.
And thematically, it’s a welcome collision of the bands previous endeavors, the story of a town that awakes undersea, all life submerged and with it all thought and action, all aspirations and complications, suspended. It’s adventurously apathetic, an impasse from The Antlers of Hospice who agonized over the mercurial trappings of love and those of Burst Apart who rejected it outright. Like the folks from the underwater town, it’s a release for the listener, no longer subject to depressing drifts or flights of fancy Silberman has been known to indulge and peddle in.
Musically, the album is a correlative wonder whose only transgression is its length (forgive us for pleading for a full-length foray). At 22 minutes, the suspended fantasy invoked by Undersea is popped too soon, just as we’ve grown comfortably numb. And it’s no wonder; “Drift Drive,” the album opener and undisputed headliner, picks up almost mid-song, as if we’ve walked in on some wonderful world. It’s an outer-worldly, transgressive track, as alienating and adventurous as any Antlers song before it. Think “Wordless Chorus” from the highly acclaimed My Morning Jacket album Z.
Listen to Drift Drive
The rest, the three succeeding songs drop into an almost Kid-A-ey vibe, complete with all the synth, sooth and shaky brass the band has become known for. And then, just as you’re drifting off into the wild undersea world, a thought experiment gone awry in the most pleasant of ways, nothing. The EP ends and only the static remains lingering in your headphones.
That said, as an outro to their old ways if that is indeed what it is, Undersea shows promise for the bands next full-length release. In aligning Silberman’s vocals with their sound, finding a fine balance between the two, the Antlers have achieved a near perfect sampling of what’s to come.