"Pulled together but about to burst apart."
I'll be honest, after Hospice, an unrelentingly bleak yet achingly gorgeous exploration of the impact of death on the living, I had no idea what to expect from The Antlers on their follow-up, Burst Apart. While the conceptual ambitions of the previous album certainly paid off in the form of a creative breakthrough, they clearly decided to traverse a different path on Burst Apart, which was a wise move as the album has a more expansive, wide-ranging feel than its predecessor. Yes, Pete Silberman still wends his expressive voice through the darkest corners of emotional turmoil and its aftermath, but in doing so this time around, The Antlers let a few momentary flickers of light shine through. Burst Apart, true to its name, is a collection of smaller statements rather than a group of songs all bending to the arc of a single narrative; however, when listening to the album the first time through, it is striking how big these songs sound, and even more impressive is the fact that they pack a similar emotional punch to Hospice without the tether of a single conceptual setting. On the album's opener, "I Don't Want Love," Silberman effortlessly leaps back and forth between a Jeff Buckley croon and a Jonsi-esque falsetto, while the band moves between Post-Rock crescendo and dreamy abstraction. Perhaps the most surprising track is "Putting the Dog to Sleep," which features one of Silberman's least restrained vocal performances married to one of his best lyrics; however, what really makes the song distinctive is its torch-song pathos and unsettling atmospherics. With Burst Apart, The Antlers have managed to retain the emotional impact that made Hospice so memorable and have me highly anticipating what comes next.
1. I Don't Want Love (3:19)
2. French Exit (4:03)
3. Parentheses (3:26)
4. No Widows (5:19)
5. Rolled Together (4:36)
6. Every Night My Teeth Are Falling Out (3:25)
7. Tiptoe (2:21)
8. Hounds (5:18)
9. Corsicana (3:37)
10. Putting the Dog to Sleep (5:48)