[sic] Magazine

The Antlers – Hospice

‘Sickeningly Simple’

First, The xx gave us the key to unlocking the age of understatement on their eponymous debut, and now The Antlers are here to confirm the power of restraint. Pete Silberman and band form a simple 5-piece. Hospice’s 8, one-word tracks are bookended by an instrumental, post-rock prologue and a swelling, eye-welling epilogue. Their influences are clean to the point of clinical.

It would have been an easy but poor tribute to have upped the level of Hallmark-like sentiment on Hospice, given its externalisation in music form of the raw emotion felt from losing a loved one. The concentrated catharsis contained in the washing cymbals of ‘Thirteen’ are particularly poignant. Silberman’s falsetto flits from an Antony Hegarty-like, soulful cry to a Wild Beasts-like, operatic mew.

Hospice is the sound of simple done sickeningly well. ‘Atrophy’ and ‘Bear’ lift the same sense of piano-built purpose as Spiritualized’s stately Songs In A&E. That Silberman’s mumbles parts of his falsetto on these tracks is all the more compelling. Extended, shimmering instrumentals give way to chilly confessions that evoke the spirit of Bon Iver’s For Emma, Forever Ago. The hard-hitting key changes in ‘Sylvia’ bring to mind Arcade Fire’s best emotive flourishes. The haunting, choral harmonies that drift around the cavernous Hospice seem like embracing angels.

Silberman’s trump cards, held against a maudlin backdrop of shivering sorrow, are the rays of sunlight which punctuate the clouds. The unbridled optimism that, for example, cracks the echoing gloom in ‘Two’ is testament to what it is to be human. Hospice is much more than just music. It is the meeting of long-lost friends, the loss of a first love, the desire to be with one’s family and that feeling of being lost. We enter the world and most probably leave it in the hospital, and all the moments in between now have a fitting soundtrack.