Monday, March 5, 2012

The Antlers: Hospice (2009)


A psychologically abusive relationship framed as the impossibly loaded metaphor of a nurse's love for a dying patient is the backdrop for this atmospherically textured fusion of the stark confessional with the Hollywood tearjerker. With its conceptual heaviness and artificially heightened momentousness, meticulously precise lyric sheet written as prose poetry and all, Hospice is not a record you come to for a good time. Like an apolitical variation on a U2 record, it approaches its decently realized melodies and performances with something like a ferociously formal pretext of self-importance. It's not an album, it's a Story, a Harrowing Emotional Journey. You either buy into the brave outlandishness of its well-reasoned, gramatically correct, exhaustive lyrics or you don't. With some caveats -- "Bear" is a brilliant and devastating abortion song revealing how toothless nearly every other song written about this subject from a male perspective really is; "Epilogue" is a stirring ode to the way terror and abuse linger after they're escaped, its every word clearly felt and heartbreaking -- I don't. But maybe I'm just not responding to Hospice on the level it deserves; it seems to require a lot of work to really get inside it, and maybe I'm just not willing to cooperate with an album on that basis. Speaking as someone who loves some of Peter Silberman's other work, you probably shouldn't listen to me on this one.

Burst Apart (2011)
(together) EP (2011)

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