The Antlers: Familiars review – introspective but controlled leftfield melancholia


The Antlers' fourth album, Familiars, adds soul to their melancholia, with mournful horns and clipped, Steve Cropper-style guitar figures rather than frantic indie strumming. The warmth of the sound does not extend to Pete Silberman's lyrics: "I rent a blank room to stop living in my past self," he admits on Hotel. Each song is constructed around a repeated chord pattern, without a conventional chorus or bridge – perhaps a legacy of the Brooklyn trio's roots in DIY electronica, or their professed influences of Charles Mingus and Alice Coltrane. Despite their rejection of traditional song structures, the Antlers maintain control over proceedings: Familiars is no jazz odyssey. And despite the prevalence of mid-paced, piano-led ballads, it never enters Coldplay territory either. Silberman's voice soars from Jeff Buckley-esque falsetto to a whisper; given his introspection, there's potential for histrionics, but the needle on the emotion-o-meter never tips into the red. As he slurs on Doppelgänger: "If you're quiet, you can hear the monster breathing."


Jon Dennis

The GuardianTramp

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