This week the Antlers release Familiars, the Brooklyn band’s fifth album. It follows a half-decade of rising popularity and critical acclaim, but it represents a pretty sizable shift. “The past can be a comfortingly painful place, and it’s easy to get stuck there,” says frontman Peter Silberman. “In that sense, I think of Familiars as a rescue mission.” That painful past certainly includes Hospice, the Antlers’ breakthrough 2009 album, a deeply heartfelt concept record set in a children’s cancer ward. Death seeps into much of the band’s work, a shadow shading the operatic folk that the Antlers excel at.
But Familiars tackles the subject head-on, both conceptually and musically. While Silberman is known for his falsetto, he now sings in his natural voice, which lends the songs on Familiars a rough-hewn edge. The dense Tibetan Book of the Dead provided much of the inspiration lyrically, as did David Lynch’s classic TV series Twin Peaks. On “Hotel,” the Antlers take all these heavy influences and set it to a soulful, slo-mo groove. In Silberman’s eyes, the itinerant lifestyle of a touring band starts to take on a lot of the same characteristics as reincarnation. The band itself starts to take on these characteristics, adding subtle stylistic tweaks to a winning sound.
Catch The Antlers at the Parish on Sunday, July 20.