EP Review: The Antlers ‘Undersea’
Thinking. Searching. Discovering. Smiling. Crying. Celebrating. These are what we are all doing every single day. But towards what exactly? We learn from our mistakes, bask in our triumphs, and hope for our dreams to come true. But in the end, is there a true point to it all? I suppose those who believe in god, or religion, would have an answer to that. But for those of us who ponder, we continually outsmart ourselves to whatever end we can conjure up at a specific moment in life. I’ve been a believer in the man upstairs, and I’ve been a doubter. But if there is one thing I can hang my hat on, it’s that there are certain things that transcend the second hand of the clock ticking away.
The Antlers have always been something of an opiate for me. The breathtakingly beautiful Hospice has gotten me through some of the most depressing points in my life the past few years. That sounds odd to say, because, well, that album centers around debilitating themes, but when you listen all the way through there’s an uplifting beauty to it. It’s like watching that bag float around in American Beauty. While the characters are completely downtrodden, there’s just something so simple and graceful about the surroundings that can change your whole perception. Anxious to shed any label of acoustic sadness fame following their breakthrough, Burst Apart was defined by depth, experimentation, and pushing the boundaries of consciousness. Perfect in its own unique way, the album dives into the fears we all suppress on a daily basis. What is death like? What happens next? Is there a next?
Undersea picks up right where Burst Apart left off, almost as if these song were meant to be tracks 11-14 after “Putting the Dog to Sleep”. Each features an expansive pit of openness and emotion allowing the listener to sink in as deep as they so desire. Perhaps that’s what makes this band, and these songs so special; they are as much your own as they are The Antlers. The EP begins by featuring a gorgeous trumpet accompanying Peter Silberman’s pitch perfect vocals with the “Drift Dive”. A dark song, the title fits the mood as the does the last piece of a puzzle. The guitar is effortless with a drawn out slide, the keyboard elegant, and there’s even a hint of strings. The second song, “Endless Ladder”, is by far the most expansive track on the release, clocking in at over eight minutes. This album’s “Wake”, it is a slow building monster of reflection asPeter Silberman remarks, “I’m an endless ladder, climbing high” throughout.
“Crest” features the return of the horns and thoughts on those who oppose us. The song’s sound shutters between curious and haunting with lines such as “through and through, they want to walk all over you.” While not a statement, it is more of a questioning, introspective piece. The final song on the EP, “Zelda”, has the opening mood of a funeral set by the bass and once again the trumpet. Silberman’s vocals rise above the dark and foreboding backbeat. They don’t offer hope or salvation, but rather simply comfort.
In all, this EP can be viewed as a watershed moment for the group. Perhaps more than any other band in the realm of indie rock, The Antlers are never quite sure exactly what they are and want to be. They ride the tidal wave of the present, painting a portrait of life in the moment. In a world full of people trying to be something, they offer a genuine spirit of what it means to be human. And I thank them for sharing, because without it, I’d be lost.
Written by Greg Dahman