So you’re a chronic sadsack whose third album (‘Hospice’) narrated a break-up using the metaphor of stomach cancer, and who finished his follow-up, ‘Burst Apart’ with a song about killing a dog – another metaphor for a dying relationship. So where to go next, eh?
For The Antlers’ frontman, Peter Silberman, the answer is simple. You do what any self-respecting emo-god would do – get into bed and pull the covers over your head. More withdrawn, more introverted, more glazed of eye, the Brooklynites seem content, on the listlessly detached ‘Undersea’ EP, to merely dream their pain away. A hurt which previously was full-blooded and exorcised by raw feeling is now suppressed under a blanket of numb prettiness and slow-burning Prozac-rock.
Nobody does exquisite sorrow like The Antlers. But where ‘Undersea’ falls down is in their reluctance to organise their woes into anything approaching a song, preferring instead to meander in opaque sedation. As advertised, ‘Endless Ladder’ is an eight-minute slog, with fluttering electronics and light guitar glancing off Silberman’s vowel-y mewl. And while ‘Zelda’ demonstrates their new-found way with texture, it too loiters among sleepy guitars and ditzy synths. They’re going for beautifully understated, but it’s like listening to someone muttering in the wind.
The dawdling ‘Drift Drive’ injects a bit of energy with piano, epic trumpet and a gentle crescendo, but in the end it’s ‘Crest’ that saves the day. Recalling Air’s ‘Playground Love’, it cuts right through the bullshit with its towering vocals and relative brevity. But it’s still not enough to save an EP that’s lacking in focus.