The Antlers - Hospice
Concept albums, is there any other phrase the rivets the soul quite as much as the idea of an artist essentially indulging in musical masturbation. After all, who could not be moved by Prog Rock’s attempt at taking pop music and trying to add some mythical reason to it? So, when reading reviews and previews to ‘Hospice’ I was to say the least, wary of an album that would openly dub itself as a concept album. However, upon hearing ‘Hospice’ I was pleasantly surprised to find that for once, a concept album had been written that wasn’t too self-indulgent… Considering this to be The Antlers’ first album, the first word that comes to mind is ambitious; however, given that they don’t let that ambition dictate the musical quality of ‘Hospice’ entreats another word; composure. Tracks such as, ‘Kettering’, ‘Thirteen’ and ‘Shiva’ demonstrate the capabilities three men can make when they fuse so sonically together. All of them abyss-like and fraught with emotional hesitance, that elicits any listener into feelings of sorrow. Furthermore, ‘Atrophy’, ‘Bear’ and ‘Two’ exemplify Peter Silberman’s ear for songs that capture a sense of duality. His ability to illustrate the daily lives of two people, who see the end in sight (kind of like ‘My Sister’s Keeper, only without the sappy ending). Closing number, ‘Epilogue’, embodies the height of the despondency of the album; it relates to listeners the experience of loss and remorse that they may not have experienced... However, something intangible about ‘Hospice’ seems to bother me, I should love this album, but I don’t; I merely like it. The idea behind everything seems concrete and interesting, there just seems to be something missing from the album. Perhaps, it’s the fact that some of the songs drag on for too long and become almost suffocating with the sense of woe. Or maybe it’s the way in which Silberman comes across in the delivery of his vocals a tad detached. I’m not suggesting that he lacks sincerity, but I would expect for there to be more raw emotion to this album, and I just don’t receive it from ‘Hospice’. I suppose, I should take into account that this after all a work that doesn’t necessarily implore drawn out emotion... Overall, ‘Hospice’ was one of my favourite albums of the year because it demonstrated that age-old traditions can be reinvented and applied to a modern setting. The album covered an area that for me isn’t often divulged into often in music; the idea of irrevocable loss. Needless to say, I had some qualms with the album, but expecting the unimaginable pain that one experiences in the circumstances of this album, perhaps I was asking too much of the band. On the whole, ‘Hospice’ is an album that demonstrates the way that pop music can contradict itself; this ethereal quality allows for music to speak where words fail.