Hospice by The Antlers is an album about a young guy losing a friend to cancer. Don’t worry everybody, it is exactly as depressing as it sounds. I won’t get too much into the lyrics yet, but they are the most devastating part of the whole thing. Another immediately noticeable part of the album is how the music will seem washed out and out of tune at times. I can’t speak for the musicians why they chose to do this, but it sounds like I would imagine being in a morphine haze feels like. The first song, “Prologue” is an instrumental in this style that doesn’t sound quite right the first few times you hear it. I’m still not sure that I like the album opening that way but it’s not as jarring as it first was.
The instrumentation on Hospice is fairly sparse. There is a lot of ambient noise going on that I would consider similar to Sigur Ros, but the rest is mainly acoustic guitar and gently played piano. The vocals are often sang quietly or in falsetto. The vocal melodies are all fairly fragile. One interesting thing about this album is that I don’t think of it as released by a band or the lead guy who wrote it from experience. I think of it as Hospice instead of by The Antlers. The whole thing seems self-contained, like it is a one-off release and that should be the only release by The Antlers (Even though I guess this is the second album by them.) I’m not even sure where they can go after this without duplicating this sound (which would be boring) or completely reinventing themselves (too early in the band’s life to do?)
The first proper song after the instrumental is “Kettering” which is one of the only songs with audible electric guitar. Next is “Sylvia”, apparently inspired by author Sylvia Plath.
Probably my favorite song is “Two” Headphones up, there is a little bit of language!
The last two songs are called “Wake” and “Epilogue”. They are after the death and are a sad and fitting ending to the album.
“Epilogue” is another song that I really like that reprises the vocal melody from the earlier song “Bear” and has some really great lyrics.
When I try to move my arms sometimes, they weigh too much too lift. I think you buried me awake (my one and only parting gift). But you return to me at night, just when I think I may have fallen asleep. Your face is up against mine and I’m too terrified to speak.
I don’t really know why I like listening to this album. It makes me think about things that I don’t like thinking about, but I would still recommend it.
Sort of short review this week. I procrastinated until Thursday night again. How unprofessional!