ALBUM REVIEW: The Antlers – Green to Gold

8/10

The Antlers - Green to Gold

In 2000, Oasis released the single “Sunday Morning Call”, seven years earlier in 1993, Oasis’ brit-pop rivals Blur released “Sunday Sunday”. The Antlers singer and primary songwriter Peter Silberman decided to do something bolder with Green to Gold; create an entire album of songs consisting of “Sunday morning music.” The seven years since the 2014 Familiars has seen Silberman take up new hobbies, including hiking and gardening, giving the impression of enjoying an idyllic sabbatical.

Sadly, the opposite is true as Silberman was diagnosed with lesions on one of his vocal cords, which required surgery and vocal therapy to retrain his voice to sing. Nonetheless, Green to Gold promises to be the bands’ most sanguine and luminous LP to date, devoid of the eeriness that characterized their previous offerings.

Whilst the antithesis of their 2009 Hospice, Green to Gold also begins live with an instrumental. The gorgeous incidental music of the opener “Strawflower” creates the feeling that one is waking up slowly from a good night’s sleep and has no errands to run for the rest of the day – just like an ideal Sunday.  Silberman truly creates a serene soundtrack as if one lived in a tranquil paradise that one does not generally expect from an Antlers track.

This serenity continues as Silberman evidences his falsetto vocals as he sings “Wheels Roll Home”, a song about the yearning to travel and experience new things whilst the endgame is to be settled: “But when your wheels roll home when your wheels roll home when your wheels roll home, no more you roam”. As “Wheels Roll Home” lead into “Solstice”, Silberman has learned the art of being a raconteur by describing his care-free days of passion whilst remaining calm and tranquil. Whilst there are melancholy violins, strings and country zithers, they do not induce feelings of sadness or a sense of loss for the days gone by; rather, they allow reflection for the blessed days one has had as Silberman remembers, “Me without my shoes, you without your shirt, river-walking tough, like the stones, don’t hurt, singing, “Keepin’ bright bright bright…”

Across previous LP’s, Silberman often “turn(ed) a human experience into a circuitous mythology”. By choosing “a more direct approach: documenting two years in his life, without overthinking or obscuring what the songs were about”, Silberman has written some of his greatest poetry, putting him on a par with the Harvest Moon songwriter Neil Young. For example, “Stubborn Man” sees some blunt and honest self-examination along with difficulty to accept one’s own conclusions across the falsetto sung lyrics a chilled, piano-led soundscape: “My overgrown comfort zone. My narrow mind is mine alone” and “Maybe I’m headstrong, iffy, but rarely wrong”.

The electro-acoustic led “Just a Sec” with quiescent organ asks the age of old question as to whether people can free themselves from people’s perceptions of them and their perception of people. Instead of reaching for the classics such as Homer, Silberman looks to modern technology as evidenced through the lyric “Could you clear my cache, momentarily?” and boldly takes the first steps to help make this happen by proclaiming to “free you from the person I was sure I knew, I free you from a reputation you outgrew, I free you from the behaviour I expect to see, and my interpretation of history, ‘Cause I boxed you in unconsciously…”

The baritone saxophone in “It Is What It Is” sees a person coming to terms with nature and even seeing the positive side of its perceived dark and cruel side. When realising “This is the first day the flowers wilt and fold. Nothing reverses, aridity takes hold”, there is a sense that the now-departed against their will are going to a better place for “This is the first day our friend is free from pain, voyaging on, while the rest of us remain”. The biggest mystery is how Silberman offers and allows the listener to ponder without taking them out of that relaxed and worry-free tranquil mind-set.

“Green to Gold”, which also shares the same title as this LP, sees Silberman looking at things differently as The Antlers frontman contemplates season changes. Upon seeing the influx of leaves engulfing the ground, Silberman instead focuses on how “All that summer” got “swept up by a broom”. This concept is expanded upon as Silberman sings how “thunderclouds hold hostage summer sky, concrete’s hot with fire it can’t contain, we sit in front of fans and wait for rain. And just like that, summer’s on the outs…”

Whilst the rockier and heavier guitar-based songs such as “Bear” and “Parentheses” with rustic indie rock static will always be live staples that will connect fans with The Antlers music; Silberman chose wisely to not go back to basics and reintroduce these elements to Green to Gold, for it is almost inevitable that these would have distorted the honest, quiescent, tranquil purity and philosophy experienced angst-free across this LP.

 

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