Posted on July 23rd, 2012 (12:08 pm) by Matt Essert

It’s not too often that a band is so accurate in their naming of a song or an album. Think about how many albums are self-titled, titled after one of the songs, or given some useless, means-nothing name. Similarly, most songs’ names tend to derive from the main hook in the chorus. This is generally fine, since names tend to serve as labels, helpful in indexing music within the listener’s catalogue—perhaps nothing more than a keyword or tag to help with the sorting process. But with The Antlers’ new EP Undersea, due out July 24 under ANTI- Records, both the record’s and tracks’ names immediately paint a picture of what your about to hear.

The new EP—which follows the 2011 releases of Burst Apart, a full length album, and (together), another EP—from the Brooklyn-based band was originally announced in early July via a cryptic, one-minute YouTube video featuring a sampling of the opening track, “Drift Drive,” hazy clips of underwater scenes, the release date and album name, and little else. Though upon hearing the EP, it quickly becomes clear what the band was doing. Described by the band itself as "an EP in length, but well beyond that in scope," Undersea is a watery collection of dream pop songs that float around, ebbing and flowing from high points to lows.

From the first measure of “Drift Drive,” you slip into the sweeping instrumentation of front man Peter Silberman’s vision. Without awkwardly hammering the water motif with overly obvious sounds, the album’s opener unmistakably conjures up visions of an underwater pop rave. It’s dreamy pop with just the right tinges of bubbles and the ebbs and flows of the ocean. The song’s name itself is also applicable to this thesis as it simultaneously feels like is driving forward and drifting aimlessly; the two movements are both in harmony and in discord, therein producing an intriguing and harmonically beautiful song, and the EP’s best track.

“Endless Ladder,” the record’s next track, also lives up to its name. It slowly builds higher and higher, but maintains the feeling that you’re not really getting any closer to an end. Instead, you’re on a swelling and falling trip seemingly pointless, yet is still inviting and enjoyable; a perfect example of the saying: “it’s the journey, not the destination.” And while the epic 8:30 track length likely isn’t necessary, it certainly adds to the feeling of “endless,” which, depending on your musical inclinations, could be a contention feature of the song—if you’re enjoying the ride, you don’t really mind it all that much, but if not, you can’t wait for the next exit.

Unfortunately, the fact that the album’s name so precisely describes its contents doesn’t necessarily translate to quality music (although, I suppose, why would it?). Though “Crest” and “Zelda” are solid tracks that have their moments, they flounder a little bit in trying to combine and convey too many musical ideas, resulting in muddled, watered down versions of what they could have been if there were more focus in each track’s direction. They’re not bad songs, but you get the sense that they could have been better.

In announcing and describing Undersea, the band said, “Undersea is the feeling of suspension—memories suspended in time and space, energy suspended in the air around us. It’s the serenity of drifting off to sleep or of sinking to the bottom of the ocean. It’s both the comfort of knowing that some questions have no answers, and the torment that we’re never meant to know the truth.” Clearly, The Antlers had a fairly well formed idea in mind, and they were successful in conveying that point in their EP. Sometimes, however, that idea translated into better music than others, resulting in a slightly unbalanced record with a few bright spots, many of which probably could have been a bit brighter.

Track Listing:
1. Drift Drive
2. Endless Ladder
3. Crest
4. Zelda

the antlers, undersea, drift drive, crest, dream pop
Purchase at: Amazon | eMusic

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