The Antlers: Familiars review – introspective but controlled leftfield melancholia

(Transgressive)

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."

Contributor

Jon Dennis

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

The Antlers: Burst Apart – review
The Antlers' last album was about cancer and abusive relationships, and this one's not much cheerier, says Michael Cragg

Michael Cragg

26, May, 2011 @9:40 PM

The Antlers live session: How we wrote Parentheses – video

Brooklyn-based post-rock quartet the Antlers arrive at the Guardian's studios to play a live version of their unsettling single Parentheses – taken from their widely hailed fourth album, Burst Apart. It is, they promise, a song about detachment from people – romantic or otherwise – and full of dark nostalgia

Ben Kape, Andy Gallagher and Ekaterina Ochagavia

08, Dec, 2011 @2:28 PM

The Antlers – review
The quartet deliver even their most straightforward songs with a fervour and intensity that has nothing to do with stagecraft and everything to do with throwing themselves into their music, writes Alexis Petridis

Alexis Petridis

09, Nov, 2011 @7:00 PM

Spotify live: The Antlers perform Every Night My Teeth Are Falling Out - video

Watch the Antlers perform Every Night My Teeth Are Falling Out from their album Burst Apart

20, Dec, 2011 @2:54 PM

Article image
Death Cab for Cutie: Thank You for Today review – comforting alt-rock melancholia
The band’s ninth album brings gorgeous melodies and mature lyrics – it’s MOR, in an appealing way

Michael Hann

17, Aug, 2018 @9:30 AM

Article image
Mø: No Mythologies to Follow review – Scandipop that mixes big tunes with leftfield sounds
From punk to crunk to ghostly electronica, Danish singer Karen Marie Ørsted throws all kinds of influences into her sound, to often hypnotic effect, writes Tim Jonze

Tim Jonze

06, Mar, 2014 @10:00 PM

Article image
Total Control: Typical System review – exceptional leftfield synth-punk
Melbourne's Total Control follow their best-in-class synth-punk debut with another terrifically creative leftfield rock record, writes Tom Hughes

Tom Hughes

03, Jul, 2014 @10:45 PM

Article image
Warpaint: Warpaint – review
Warpaint's second album is so muted and restrained as to be barely there, but close listening does reap some rewards, writes Alexis Petridis

Alexis Petridis

16, Jan, 2014 @3:00 PM

Article image
Torres: Torres – review
Nasville-based Mackenzie Scott's stark confessionals sound like the first flowerings of a major new talent, writes Dave Simpson

Dave Simpson

05, Dec, 2013 @9:30 PM

Article image
Cheatahs: Cheatahs – review
This new British band ape the sounds of 90s US rock with an appealing sense of buzz and bluster, writes Maddy Costa

Maddy Costa

06, Feb, 2014 @9:14 PM