Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered and mastered by Matt Oliver, Illustration based on a photograph by Sarah Buckley
We have this old beater of a car that we've been threatening to replace for a few years now. It was a freebie car, given to us years and years ago, and part of the reason for not replacing it is some sick predilection for wanting to see it kill itself. We're running it into the ground. We refuse to put any new fluids in it. We grudgingly change the oil, but we do it when it's absolutely needed. We're not monsters after all, but we do want to see what a lot of neglect and a little curiosity might get us in this race towards the clock, towards an automobile coffin. We've never had a car just keel over and croak on us before. This is going to be the first, if all goes well, when all turns bad. The scariest part for us, is when it shows all of the signs of our mistreatment. Sure, that Check Engine light is lit up in bright orange on the dash, but it's been like that for a long time now - almost a year - and nothing horrible has happened yet. It keeps starting in the morning damn it and it stays running once it's started. You can't ask for too much more than that. The thing that gets us a little worried is when we're idling at a stoplight or stop sign and there are some hiccups, some rattles and these temporary, but gross feeling shakes. It feels like the car's finally hacking its final goodbyes and we're doomed to be stuck right where we are, holding up traffic and grabbing nasty stares and horn bleatings from those who think we meant for this to happen. The way that it shakes reminds you of the chills, no, the convulsions you get in your body when it's experiencing something frightening. It's the feeling you get, in conjunction with some perspiring armpits and clammy hands and it's that feeling that you might be having a mild heart attack. You're seized up and you're hardly yourself. You feel that you've been slid into this wild state of craziness, dunked into a tank of ice water, only to pull yourself from it gasping and shivering.
The Antlers make you shake just the same. The trio of musicians reenact these sensations on their latest full-length album, "Burst Apart," putting you in a menagerie without the animals. The animals are replaced with conflicting emotions - the dreaminess of lead singer Peter Silberman's vocals, the praying mantis-like sizzles of Darby Cicci synths on "Parentheses" and the push along sleuthing of late night drums from stick man Michael Lerner - and they're all finding ways to coexist, to slide by and over one another, rubbing hides and causing friction. These are competing feelings that always seem as if they're moments away from turning into something else at any second. For now, they're fine. They feel stable and of gentle hearts, but like our threatening automobile, they give us this awful shaking every so often. We worry about what's going to happen. Then nothing happens and we let out a huge exhale. Most of the time, nothing happens when we're worried the most. We overreact and it causes our blood pressure to skyrocket. We make ourselves sick with it, but we usually feel as if we were right to have worried. Silberman, you can tell, is a worrier, and these are his shaking feelings. He's dressing them up in dashing suits and lustrous scarves, but beneath it all are these shakes. We can feel them, even if lightly, and they're menacing. We know it's just a matter of time before we feel the full extent.