Published Jun 13, 2014From 2009's Hospice onward, Brooklyn trio the Antlers have consistently crafted slow-burning indie rock set to soul-pouring lyrics, and this album is no exception. The third record since Pete Silberman expanded the project from solo to a trio, Familiars has a cohesive sonic identity, taking several core elements — Silberman's stunning tenor and hollow guitar tone, Michael Lerner's light drums and Darby Cicci's cosmic synths and syrupy trumpets — and rearranging them with enough delicacy to avoid treading the same ground repeatedly. Each song has its own identity, but also functions as a cog in the record's machine.
Lyrically, the album focuses on interacting with and overcoming one's past self, dissecting this concept with poetic lyrics accompanied by smoky, sexy instrumental passages. The tracks are lengthy (the shortest track is only a few seconds shy of five minutes) and lethargic, opting for long payoffs; most tracks start out relatively sparse before building to a triumphant climax, often with Silberman kicking his voice into high gear alongside amped-up instrumentation.
While the record is consistently well-produced, its middle section deserves heightened praise. "Director" blossoms into a cymbal-heavy instrumental break that provides a beautiful sonic representation of internal conflict before rolling right into the "Revisited," a passionate waltz, and "Parade," which juxtaposes ignorance of one's mistakes with triumphant horns.
Familiars isn't a record that will immediately jump out and grab the listener, but one designed to coerce and shrewdly pique interest for another listen until they're eventually seduced. It's a collection that both solidifies and furthers the band's identity as impressive crafters of introspective indie rock, considerably slowing the tempo to really accentuate the poetry. While the Antlers may struggle to escape the shadow of Hospice's success, they have undoubtedly succeeded in making another spectacular, cohesive record. (Anti)