The Antlers find strength in dream-pop numbers

Going full burst
By REYAN ALI  |  June 9, 2011

antlers main
GROWING TOGETHER Once a bedroom project, the Antlers (Michael Lerner, Peter Silberman, and Darby Cicci) have blossomed into a band with textured dream-pop melodies and carefully crafted layers of distortion. 

The indie-rock world adores its creative hermits more and more every day. Over the last four years, a deluge of bedroom-born projects have hit the genre. Ariel Pink, Craft Spells, Dirty Beaches, all the chillwave dudes, and locals Passion Pit are just a few who have used work constructed in their sleeping quarters as a springboard to varying degrees of success.


Peter Silberman, mastermind of the Antlers (who come to the Paradise next Thursday), is another example of this artistic type. After kicking around in obscurity for three years and releasing two solo records under the Antlers moniker, he wrote what would become the critically acclaimed Hospice (Frenchkiss) in the confines of his Brooklyn apartment, cutting himself off from his friends. But, like many musicians who start out in their bedrooms, Silberman decided he wanted company.

Key names in the fleshed-out Antlers line-up included bassist Justin Stivers, drummer Michael Lerner, and multi-instrumentalist Darby Cicci, who remembers not being too impressed when he saw Silberman and Stivers play together for the first time. "It was, uh, a pretty standard kind of acoustic set. I was like, 'Y'know, you need something weird,' " says Cicci via phone call from Sasquatch! Music Festival in George, Washington. The day after the show, Stivers and Silberman asked Cicci to play trumpet and banjo with them. Lerner entered the fold soon thereafter, with the quartet recording the album in Silberman's place.

As Hospice was mythologized by compliment after compliment and the band (now sans Stivers) gained momentum, they toured for about two and a half years, incorporating new elements into their repertoire. The May release of fourth Antlers album Burst Apart (Frenchkiss) marks their first created start-to-finish as a full band. Cicci in particular is all over the record, handling background vocals, keyboards, trumpet, bass, banjo, and some percussion. Although the Antlers have certainly transported the same core sound — meticulous melodies juxtaposed with snowstorms of distortion, Silberman's dainty falsetto, sweet textures — Burst has faster rhythms, less quiet-quiet-loud instrumentation, and a generally brighter je ne sais quoi going on. Silberman has noted that the record is partially shaped by the group listening to a lot of electronica before its recording and that particular inspiration definitely shines through.

But discussing the Antlers wouldn't be right without addressing Hospice's most crucial quality. Silberman wrote the album as a kind of concept album about the disintegrating relationship between a hospice worker and a dying patient. He was elusive about whether the album was inspired by real events, further enhancing its mystique. Cicci freely acknowledges the importance of this hook. "When you're starting out, it's a struggle to have people write about you in the first place. To have such a packaged, quotable concept story to write about is definitely beneficial. There are a million bands making records — a million bands you've never heard of — so anyone is going to write about something that has a story to it."

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