14th November 2011
A gulf between critical acclaim and commercial success is hardly anything new – it’s something that dates back to the very origins of rock music – but it’s certainly neatly underlined tonight at Sound Control. The Antlers, who have this year received an incredibly positive response to their fourth record Burst Apart, have nevertheless failed to sell out a 500-capacity venue; all the more fortunate, then, are those who have turned up to witness an intimate performance from the Brooklyn band. They open with the new record’s curveball, ‘Parentheses’, all shimmering drums and abstract vocals, lulling the less-acquainted into a false sense of security; the rest of the set is an emotional maelstrom designed to snare even the most cynical of hearts.
The Antlers’ last LP, 2009’s Hospice, is a concept album based around the idea of terminal illness as a metaphor for a faltering relationship; evidently, this is not a group averse to tugging heavily on the heartstrings, and tonight’s Burst Apart-heavy setlist confirms it; the brutally-honest ‘French Exit’ – ‘every time we speak /you are spitting in my mouth’, and desolate ‘Hounds’ serving as prime examples. Special mention should go to the utterly gorgeous ‘Corsicana’ – all haunting guitars and yearning vocals, it’s as beautiful a song as I’ve heard all year, and the crowd stays commendably, perhaps obligatorily, silent throughout.
Wonderfully wistful set closer ‘Putting the Dog to Sleep’ spearheads the charge for an encore, and it’s provided obligatorily with Burst Apart standout ‘I Don’t Want Love’, and rounded off perfectly by Hospice’s ‘Epilogue’, a slow, searing reflection on ‘getting over’ a relationship. The thoroughly-deserved record sales and sold-out shows are yet to come; for now, The Antlers will have to make do with spending their evenings playing to utterly devoted crowds, however modest they might be.