The Antlers, Undersea
by: Stephanie Roush
July 24, 2012
It’s safe to say that in the past year The Antlers have become one of my favorite bands. Their music, though introverted, reflective, and sad, serves to remind their listeners of the raw emotions that all too often remain stowed away in some obscure part of the mind. With the success of Burst Apart and Hospice, the Antlers had two tough acts to follow in releasing their latest EP, Undersea. Yet, this collection of songs doesn’t disappoint, especially if you consider the title literally. With only four tracks (each is over five minutes long), Undersea provides the listener with twenty minutes of pure, unadulterated daydreaming. It’s a stream-of-consciousness EP that stays true to the band’s signature style of sorrowful vocals, but becomes even more ethereal in doing so.
“Drift Dive,” the EP’s first track, begins with subtle horns playing in the background. The track immediately immerses the listener in the watery world of Undersea as Peter Silberman sings “waking up I’m not awake.” The initial feeling of impending doom and meaninglessness continues throughout the entire track. Culminating with the lyric “a million pieces in a billion places,” the end of “Drift Dive” overwhelms the listener with the magnitude of the band’s sound, and the magnitude of the ocean itself.
Following “Drift Dive,” “Endless Ladder” continues the musical trends established by the first track and creates the musical equivalent of what the song’s title suggests. The first two minutes of the song repeat the same piano riff over and over again to the point that it seems as though the track might be skipping. Lyrically sparse, the song focuses mainly on the percussive monotony of climbing a ladder. An eight and a half minute track, “Endless Ladder” seems endless at times, but beautiful nonetheless.
Reenlisting the horns of the first track, “Crest” lifts the listener out of the doom a bit, but only enough make the listener want to swim a little faster through the pooling dreaminess of the track. “Swim til’ you’re half asleep,” the lyrics bring the listener “closer to trawl, but much, much further” (a trawl is a sturdy fishing net that sweeps the ocean floor). The vocals in “Crest” are the most reminiscent of Burst Apart, they elegantly highlight the more electronic sounds employed in the track and take us to the most up-lifting point in the EP, the crest of the wave if you will.
To end the album, “Zelda” reverts back to the dreamy, aqueous world that defines Undersea. “I’m here to tell you you’re not awake yet” croons Silberman, and the listener believes him. In a way, the entire EP is an underwater dream. The Antlers’ latest takes the listener to musical depths only reached by a couple of songs in their previous work, yet with little musical diversity. Undersea, though hauntingly repetitive and dark, only adds to the Antlers’ already impeccable repertoire.