Archive for the 'Antlers' Category

The Antlers

Ever since I first listened to the Who’s Rock Opera,  Tommy, in 8th grade, I’ve been fascinated by concept albums. The concept album, for those of you who don’t know, is an collective work in which each of the songs contribute to a unified theme or story. There are countless examples: The Wall, Ziggy Stardust, Pet Sounds, Sgt Peppers, etc, my favorites unquestionably being the narrative concept albums. Done well, the inclusion of  an interweaving story adds so much to the communicative effectiveness of the music. It was with great satisfaction then, that I recently came upon a great example of concept album technique with the Antlers’ release Hospice.

Hospice, released last year through one of my favorite labels, French Kiss Records, is a deeply poetic work. The album details the story of man encountering a depressed and abusive bone cancer patient in the Kettering Cancer Ward where he is working. As the songs progress, he ends up falling in love, and eventually watching her die while he is beside her. Needless to say, it’s an emotionally impactful album, at times wistful and beautiful while at other times full of angst.  Shifting lyrical points of view from the male protagonist to his dying love help drive the effectiveness of the narrative. Additionally the album is notable for its stylistic variation – exhibiting a range of soft ballads of sweeping guitar, folk influenced songs, and faster-paced numbers with heavy reverb. The lyrics, too, are worth reading on their own. It is readily evident that a lot of artistry went into their writing. Check out the liner notes here.

The Antlers certainly took a chance in making themselves vulnerable by crafting a very personal debut album. And because of this I think they’re off to a fantastic start. Hospice is definitely a work to listen to (all the way through please) on your own accord. While you won’t be bumping these tracks on the way to Malibu, it’s a great solitary listen.

Bottom Line:  if taken lightly, Hospice could be seen as over the top and needlessly dramatic. But I’ve found that if you allow yourself to be absorbed by the story, it is a rewarding experience.



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