For 2009’s Hospice and last year’s Burst Apart, the Antlers ventured into dark territory. The former painted a picture of the tumultuous relationship between a hospice worker and a terminally ill patient, while the latter focused on the pain of moving on from a difficult experience. Now, armed with a new, more uplifting release, the Brooklyn-based indie-rock band can see the bright light at the end of a very murky tunnel.
“It’s really closing the door on a lot of dark shit from the past,” frontman Peter Silberman tells Rolling Stone of Undersea, a four-song EP due July 24th. “I’m prepared to start over and write about now.”
Touring behind some emotionally draining material weighed heavily on Silberman. To that end, when the Antlers (who also include multi-instrumentalist Darby Cicci and drummer Michael Lerner) returned home and found themselves with a block of time to record, it was a welcome relief. The band entered the studio with no material, but Silberman says they quickly found themselves bursting with inspiration. “It’s funny, because we go into a lot of these recording situations, and once we get started we just let out all of these ideas . . . like, ‘Oh, shit, two and a half months? We could make two full-length albums. That’s easy,'” he explains. Eventually however, the band would flesh out their creative output, narrowing down the material to the four tracks that comprise Undersea. “It sort of formed itself,” says Silberman.
Undersea, a collection of highly textural, swooning songs that dip and crater under a bevy of electronic flourishes, started to take on a general aquatic feel about a month into the recording process, the singer says. “We just started to feel like everything was swaying, and the textures that we were bringing to it were these very organic natural sounds, even though they were also kind of fun and alien,” he recalls of the inspiration for the album title.
With these four cuts the singer started to shy away from the lyrical density of his past creative output. “I think it’s been my challenge the past couple of records to try and say more with less,” he says, adding that a less narrative-based approach to his lyrics has allowed him to focus on the things he’s trying to create and “not try to cram as much as humanly possible into one song.”
The tracks on Undersea do, however, delve into some heady topics. On “Endless Ladder,” an eight-minute-plus, piano-anchored epic that climaxes with what Silberman describes as “a fucking rainforest” of sound, the singer ponders the existence of a parallel universe.
“If I’m really here now in a place and time/ does someone look just like me on another side?” he ponders. Minutes later, during “Zelda,” a couple becomes suspicious of whether or not their lives are actually real (“I’m here to tell you/ we’re not awake yet,” the narrator protests). “All this kind of reality-questioning kind of shit . . . I enjoy it,” the singer says with a laugh. “I feel like it’s a massive personality shift for me.”
Silberman says that now with his more positive outlook he’s ready to continue exploring what the future holds for the Antlers. “I’m ready to make the next record,” he says. “I feel like I’m in a really good place.”