Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Antlers - Hospice

Rarely does an album come along that fully encompasses the wicked spectrum of emotion that accompanies trauma. And I mean real life trauma; the lyrics throughout these songs are nothing short of exasperating, mournful, reminiscent and eulogistic. His words tell a story from a distance, one which perhaps Peter Silberman wishes he could have maintained for his own sake. Yet his tone, coupled with the music, has the power to make you feel as if you were the first ears these confessions have found.
The narrative is clear, and whether fictitious or autobiographically confessional, Hospice is primarily a story, and its existence as an album seems secondary. I don't want to fail to recognize its brilliance as a piece of music, however, because it is truly one of the most beautiful things I have ever heard. The ambiance and depth created by only three people is both astounding and mesmerizing. Each song unfolds patiently, creating and building our trust in wherever Silberman is taking you. The music comes at you in waves of volume, ebbing and flowing, working it's way in and out an alternating spotlight with Silberman's vocals as the complementary costar. The story and music collectively culminate in the last half of "Wake," the album's second to last song. The long-standing protagonist of previous tracks loses his identity and seems to plea with any "you" willing to listen;
"It was easier to lock the doors and kill the phones,
than to show my skin,
beacuse the hardest thing is never to repent for someone else,
it's letting people in."

And later, as he cries what he can only seemingly hope to be true;
"Don't be scared to speak,
don't speak with someone's tooth,
don't take that sharp abuse.
Some patients can't be saved,
but that burden's not on you.
Don't ever let anyone tell you you deserve that."

The Antlers carefully craft an emotional resonance that rivals the most memorable books and movies I have come across, but they manage to do it in less than an hour. It is unfair to compare the three mediums, I understand, but the idea that music can romance the human heart in such a direct and immediate way will always be a at the center of my life. Rarely will someone come along and squeeze your heart between their fingers, strip your soul of its armor.
I love this album.
Perhaps it is because hospice means more to me than the average listener. Perhaps it is my predisposition towards anything that can reach me in my most isolated and lonely moments. It doesn't really matter. The Antlers released Hospice on their own because they knew it was a worthy and important piece of art. And I agree.

***I do understand this review comes about a year late, but it is worth noting that I haven't ever stopped listening to it. Let that be an addition to the typical "day after" review.

1 comment:

  1. Your review sold my on revisiting this album. I gave it a sparse listen once. Ambiance, I thought, more indie ambiance. But I've heard great things of it. Most of those haven't sold it to me yet, but this has.