[sic] Magazine

The Antiques – Awake

Washington DC’s The Antiques specialise in their own highly stylised sound. Essentially an alt-rock four-piece, they augment their sound with occasional guest vocals, brass and swathes of sombre organ. It’s the latter, I feel, that renders the sound of The Antiques utterly unique. Themes of regret, bitterness and fatigue run right through the core of this record, each swaddled in a blanket of Wurlitzer keys. If you know Joy Division, and in particular their track ‘The Eternal’ from Closer, you will already have some clue as to what you might expect from The Antiques. Even the vocals have that same netherworld appeal – vocoded, anguished and lost in the mix.

bq. “we are alone
over the snow
over the clouds
under the ground”

‘Paper Lanterns’

Awake is of course a wake – 10 laments of differing texture and density but all making one album, one statement. It’s a difficult subject and yet we shouldn’t forget that a wake is often a time of celebration, of warmth and humour as well as the more obvious reflection and loss. The Antiques understand this well and anyone expecting one long, morbid death-fest would be ill-advised. There is hope here and dreaminess. At times these guys remind me of Badalamenti’s work for Lynch. So much so that if the good witch popped up during a song to say something along the lines of “don’t turn away from love Sailor”, I wouldn’t be over-surprised.

The Antiques were labelled chamber-pop on their previous outing ‘Sewn with stitches’ but trust me ‘Awake’ may be “chamber” but it is pretty far away from pop. True some moments fleetingly recall The Smiths but essentially The Antiques inhabit their own world. It’s an odd, disquieting little world. A baroque, ‘end of the pier’ show you’re never quite sure if you’re supposed to be witnessing. Newcomers to the band may find ‘Sewn with stitches’ an easier entry point. ‘Awake’ is a darker, richer tapestry. Personally I found it compelling.