The Antlers' 2009 breakout album, Hospice, is so epic, so crushing, that listening to it feels like a bullet taking 50 minutes to sink into your chest. It's a gorgeous piece of work, a loose concept record that lingers long after frontman Peter Silberman's falsetto peters out. It was among the best indie albums of 2009 (amid tough competition, with Animal Collective's Merriweather Post Pavilion and Grizzly Bear's Veckatimist in the running), meaning its follow-up would be as anticipated as it was scrutinized. And here at Napster, we think The Antlers did a pretty good job under the pressure.
While Silberman was the main force behind the group's previous outputs, 2011's Burst Apart is the band's first truly collaborative effort, with percussionist Michael Lerner and multi-instrumentalist Darby Cicci helping to flesh out his vision. Through that collaboration, the band took the weight off Hospice's shoulders, capturing its aftermath in a slow-burning dream state that's as narcotic as it is haunting. Silberman is more introspective here, examining the fine line between loneliness and independence, and bearing a striking resemblance to Jeff Buckley on tracks like "I Don't Want Love" and the anxiety-ridden rocker "Every Night My Teeth Are Falling Out." His falsetto slithers like a charmed snake as guitars echo and keyboards meander into the ether like the spacey reveries of Mercury Rev. And even when Silberman's voice isn't present, like on " Tiptoe," his poignancy resonates as a lonely horn glides through a noir film's dark alley.