Hospice, the Antlers’ breakthrough album, was a lot like the ghost that lived in its songs: beautiful, frightening, a little bit stifling. You can’t fault the band for abandoning that heaviness this time around — it must have been twice as devastating to record as it was to listen to. So, yes, Burst Apart lacks the cohesiveness and clean, heartbreaking narrative of their first album, but in shaking off all that weight, they’ve found new energy. Take, for instance, the bounce to “French Exit,” or the shimmering guitar on “Every Night My Teeth Are Falling Out.” The band’s just as moody as ever, Peter Silberman’s falsetto, just as affecting. But the anguish that sharpened the lyrics is gone, and there’s something ecstatic about his high notes. It’s funny to say that about songs called “I Don’t Want Love” or “Every Night My Teeth Are Falling Out,” and to be sure, even without lyrics “Tiptoe” is as haunting as anything on Hospice. The first person’s important here — a lot of Hospice’s drag came from the narrator’s overwhelming guilt. It’s nice to see him concentrating on himself, in the same way it’s nice to see someone eating again after they’ve been sick. Or perhaps that guilt’s just transferred itself. That dream where your teeth fall out? Freud says it can represent shame over masturbation. Once again, it’s nice to see the narrator concentrating on himself.
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Burst Apart is out 5/10 via Frenchkiss. You can stream the whole thing.