Peter Silberman is one of my favorite songwriters. If you’ve never heard of the Brooklyn band, I highly recommend spending time with their discography. Silberman and Co. have a way of crafting an indie rock sonata of sorts from album to album. The Antlers’ 3rd LP, 2009’s Hospice, is a landmark indie record that tells the story of a dysfunctional relationship through the eyes of a terminally ill patient and a hospice-worker. Their 2012 EP Drift Dive, was a marvelous companion to 2011’s introspective and deconstructing Burst Apart and it was the last breath we’d heard from the band. It left me chomping at the bit for the release of Familiars. You know that feeling when you listen to a band non-stop and you acclimate yourself with the story of their music and then say to yourself “Then what happens?” This is Familiars.
This is a gift of a record. It’s when a band that moves you with every note, drops the next piece of the puzzle and it’s just as magnificent as the others. Familiars opens with the gripping piano and an atmospheric whirring trumpet on the single “Palace.” Silberman’s lyrics are nothing short of poetically perfect, with lines like “The day we wake inside a secret place that everyone can see” and then on “Revisited,” my favorite lyric on the record:
Can you see the secret exit? The false wall in obsession?
You’ll only fit through the doorway when you relinquish your possessions
It’s a line I’ve pondered more than once since I first heard it and shaped my outlook on material things. How such a simple line can affect a listener deeply. Lyrics seem to come so naturally for Silberman. He’s a master of cryptic story-telling. He can seemingly weave any idea into any group of gorgeous words he chooses. But the ultimate charm of Familiars is truly in it’s arrangements. It’s like a small jazz orchestra is leading the journey through all of the songs. The trumpet played by long-time collaborator Darby Cicci is king and it’s an integral part of the movements of the album. Much like yesterday’s entry lends itself to a good companion on a rainy day, Familiars is no different. With it’s lengthy guitar outros, soft snares and subtle synths, it’s both an ambient and orchestral essay in melancholy.
The Antlers are a fantastic band. One of the best from where I’m standing and Familiars is the next logical step in their upward trajectory and easily one of the best albums of 2014. Enjoy.