The Antlers – Familiars (Album Review)

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The Antlers were founded in 2006 as the solo project of vocalist and guitarist Peter Silberman, who released a handful of bedroom-recorded LPs. While working on his album ‘Hospice’, he enlisted session musicians Darby Cicci and Michael Lerner, who then became permanent members. The album features an epic storyline about abusive relationships and loss, and Silberman has stated that it is mostly auto-biographical.

As a trio, they independently released ‘Hospice’ in 2009, quickly selling out of all their copies. It was followed by ‘Burst Apart’ which also enjoyed great acclaim worldwide. They have graced a number of festival stages, performed on American TV and seen their songs used in films and TV shows.

This June will mark the release of their latest album, ‘Familiars’, released via Transgressive Records. Recorded, engineered and produced by the band in their own Brooklyn studio, the album opens with ‘Palace’, instantly picking up their unique blend of orchestral-choral-folk. It’s beautifully reflective, stripped back and unobtrusive, with Silberman’s soft, breathy vocals leading. It has a very clear, uncrowded feel, yet still manages to sound cinematically epic. It’s a sound that draws your mind to the distant horizon.

Second track ‘Doppelganger’ is far more introspective, it’s melancholy and regretful. Silberman executes an impressive vocal range which, I suspect, determined the musical composition, rather than the other way round.

The album gently sways between the different emotions, becoming more forceful in ‘Intruders’, more persuasive in ‘Revisited’, more hopeful in closing track ‘Refuge’. It may not push the emotions to the extremes, but it simply doesn’t need to. In a world where everyone seeks to be bigger, brighter, more radical, this is a refreshing stroll through the forgotten emotions holding the middle-ground.

Due to the very nature of The Antlers, this is not music you will dance to, or sing along to. It’s music for relaxing late at night, for inspiring creativity, for lamenting a broken heart. Load it onto your iPod and go for a long walk with it, either under the streetlights of a city, or into the sun-filled countryside. Actually, scrap that, it should be raining. And you should forget your coat.