The Antlers released Undersea with a Facebook video featuring a pair of dolphins swirling around in an After Dark screensaver like you’d see in your tenth grade classroom. The text reads: “Happy Undersea! Thank you from Antlercorp! Love, Darby, Michael and Peter.” Such a video could never have paired with 2009’s Hospice (a concept album about a hospice worker and a patient dying of cancer), or last year’s Burst Apart, which was devastating in its own way. And earlier this month, the band posted a promotional video entitled “What would flipper do (wwfd)?”, with yet another pair-o-dolphins. So, it’s clear that things are looking a bit less bleak for this beloved Brooklyn-based band.
Undersea, according to The Antlers’ Web site, is “the serenity of drifting off to sleep or sinking to the bottom of the ocean,” and the band executed its vision damn near perfectly. The EP moves like an octopus traversing the big blue: the slow guitar, meditative drums, haunting horns, and effects sink into four tracks that almost listen as one, yet stand out individually.
“Drift Drive” fosters the album’s theme as a saxophone and synthesizers swirl around Peter Silberman’s croon, singing that “the planet drowns in a hundred days/dissolving into a million pieces in a billion places.” The eight-minute “Endless Ladder” drifts deeper into ambient headphone effects than the band has ever gone before. “Crest”, the most surprising (and sexy) piece of Undersea, sees Silberman’s signature falsetto climb to the next level, as he hits lines like “bathe underwater with me” and “I’m the ocean under you.” The song’s slow haunt sounds like a sister track for Burst Apart’s “Rolled Together”, though “Crest” rocks a little less hard (we are drifting in the ocean, after all).
The textural, deep-dive tracks of Undersea are a refreshing transition, recorded during a two-month block of time off. There’s also more coming in the near future, as Silberman told Rolling Stone: “I’m ready to make the next record. I feel like I’m in a really good place.” Until then, we’ll drift about with this EP.
Essential Track: “Crest”