The Antlers – Burst Apart

The Antlers – Burst Apart



When Pete Silberman migrated to Brooklyn in 2007 it’s tough to know if he could really anticipate the fiercely competitive musical territory to which he was stepping in amongst. Yeasayer, MGMT, Grizzly Bear and Battles all hail from the New York borough and all unconditionally slammed-out important records that year. This illustrates just what an increasingly difficult endeavour it is to sound discernible when all the brightest colours are bleeding into one, especially when that canvas is a densely populated county.

This crowded environment context certainly drips through into Burst Apart, but the effect isn’t one of claustrophobia. With 10 tracks equating to 41 minutes of music the record is cohesive, but it’s this idea of internal competition which drags the whole thing down.

It’s difficult to even comprehend the chemical reaction taking place when grown men are brought to tears by such painful tracks as ‘Corsicana’ and ‘I Don’t Want Love’, two of the most harrowingly beautiful songs I’ve ever heard. There are songs which have affecting lyrics, and there are songs which have an affecting sound. The most beautiful part of the crestfallen ‘Corsicana’ is the poignant wordless chorus, whilst the lyrics of ‘I Don’t Want Love’ highlight how all of us can form relationships that we ultimately destroy. If there was ever a soundtrack to the saddest points in your life, these ambient glows would be on it.

What’s baffling is how The Antlers can fill the vacuum formed between two such mammoth songs with material of such comparative unimportance. Initially I can honestly affirm that after four solid, attentive ear-lending sessions, I could still only distinguish the first and ninth song. After countless listens much later on, this is still the case. Essentially this is because the vast majority of Burst Apart is an intensive exploration of texture. Of course there are vocals present, but generally this is a collection of instrumentals that wash straight over you with only two having any effect. There are barely any memorable hooks as it is, and without that human voice crying out more often, there is nothing for me to hold on to. During real-time listening I find them all okay and enjoyable, but in terms of longevity they are instantly forgettable.

This isn’t to say that aside from two songs, the rest of Burst Apart is album filler fodder. I guess it’s just a lot like the Brooklyn music scene; these two encompassing songs are such excellent pieces of bread, their monstrous significance dwarfs and squashes the middle of the sandwich into an indistinguishable mush. It still tastes nice, but you don’t really know what you’re eating. And deep down I know it’s the strength and substance of those two pieces of bread holding it all together.


– James Godwin, June 17th, 2011

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