Brooklyn indie-rock band The Antlers prepare new album

By Nathan Frontiero

Courtesy of xnixckypoox/Flickr
Courtesy of xnixckypoox/Flickr

Brooklyn-based indie rock group The Antlers have announced that their new album, “Familiars,” is slated for a June 17 release. The album, the band’s fifth, is their first collection of new music heard since their 2012 “Undersea” EP, and their first full-length since the band’s 2011 “Burst Apart.”

The band has developed and refined their ethereal, introspective sound over the years, with interesting modulations along the way. Frontman Peter Silberman originally started The Antlers as a solo project. He recorded the first two albums, “Uprooted” and “In the Attic of the Universe,” himself and both resonate with a deeply personal, delicate sonic texture. The songs throughout both of these very short albums are gentle, acoustic-based and aching in their musical restraint.

During the recording of a third album, Silberman recruited Darby Cicci and Michael Lerner to complete the group, and the resulting record, “Hospice,” is a testament to the effectiveness of the trio’s creative dynamic. “Hospice” augmented the intimacy of the group’s first two albums with a chilling soundscape that unfolds and explodes beautifully over the album’s conceptual narrative. Through the combination of compelling lyrics and compositions, the album traces the abusive relationship between a hospice worker and a terminally ill patient. The tracks are heavy throughout, but songs like “Bear,” “Two” and “Kettering” are marked with an especially searing and truly affecting emotional depth. The band solidified their unique sound with “Hospice,” and garnered enough attention from self-releasing the album to earn a deal with Frenchkiss Records.

With their fourth album, “Burst Apart,” the band continued along the sonic path they started with “Hospice,” while swapping the chilling aural aesthetic for a warmer, more organic palette. Electric pianos and organs border guitar work that’s both clean and occasionally shimmering. The lyrics on “Burst Apart,” however, are every bit as emotionally devastating as they were on “Hospice.” Silberman’s impressive and otherworldly falsetto keeps the heart-on-the-sleeve songwriting as earnest as it needs to be.

“Palace,” the first single released from “Familiars,” follows in the trend of production warmth that “Burst Apart” started and the “Undersea” EP continued. With its sweeping echo chamber of trumpet, guitar and drums, coupled with Silberman’s reverberated vocals, “Palace” feels similar to “Drift Dive,” the single released from “Undersea,” albeit not quite as murky. The band has moved on from the lush and summery underwater texture that marked that particular release. The sound here is definitely open, unrestrained and widescreen, but also clean.

Each of the nine tracks on “Familiars” are at least five minutes long, so listeners are safe in expecting more of the exploration and experimentation heard on the band’s other albums. The Antlers are equally skilled in both epic and intimate songs, and the pleasant surprises on their albums are songs that fit evenly between both modes.

It remains to be seen what story this album will tell, or if it will tell one. The nine tracks all have one-word titles, among them “Doppelgänger,” “Refuge” and “Revisited,” to name a few. This consistency may play into some sort of overarching theme, perhaps in the same conceptual vein as “Hospice,” but lyrical content at this stage will stay the subject of speculation. Silberman has more than proven his prowess in that regard, so this is far from a point of worry. The album will surely be compelling, as all the band’s music is. Devoted fans will certainly be waiting excitedly to see where The Antlers choose to travel in this new chapter of their creative journey.

One week after the release of “Familiars,” The Antlers will embark on a tour in support of the album. They will be playing at The Sinclair in Cambridge, Mass. on June 25, and will make stops in major cities across the country through late July.

Nathan Frontiero can be reached at [email protected]