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The Antlers: Hospice

by on August 10, 2010


For the Antler’s third album, the story of singer/songwriter Peter Silberman is very similar, almost identical, to the story of Justin Vernon, or Bon Iver. A heartbroken, lonely man goes to live in seclusion while writing beautiful yet depressing songs. The difference: Hospice is a more focused and well put-together album.

The story of Hospice is one of a doctor who is taking care of a patient with bone cancer. The patient, Sylvia, has become numb to everything around her, and the album takes us through her dreams, memories, and the feelings that the doctor has for her.

Hospice is a terrific album. Each song complements the last melodically as well as narratively while only including bare bones instrumentation – guitar, keyboard, bass and drums – and the occasional horn section (oh look, another similarity to Bon Iver). And while the songs are mostly piano driven, the droning guitar adds to the atmosphere of sorrow and guilt.

The songs of Hospice are beautiful and awfully depressing, however they all have that one quality that makes them inspiring, and at times even playful. Whether it is a screaming chorus, or crystal arpeggios played by a keyboard, each song is just as good as the last.

Similarly, Silberman’s voice adds another dimension to the music. It’s sweet, yet faltering. On the second chorus of “Sylvia”, for example, Silberman’s voice seems to almost be gone, amidst his wailing and cries of remorse. On “Bear”, the fact that the f-bomb is dropped twice in the same sentence sounds eerily innocent and sweet, despite the setting of a dream that Sylvia could never live.

This perfect combination of droning instrumentation, falsetto vocals and beautiful songwriting makes Hospice one of the best and most re-listenable albums of 2009. The story feels real and will surely spark a sense of loneliness in the listener, making Hospice a must-have and an instant classic.


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