Filled with cobalt textures and light effects, Undersea is every bit the subaquatic experience Antlers were aiming for. The EP from the Brooklyn-based outfit is couched in ambient influences that weave gracefully with notes of indie rock, providing a rich vision that gets in and gets out of the water in a touch over 20 minutes.
Antlers haven’t exactly been known for being hopeful, which is why this submarine arrival may appear to come out of left field. After all, this is the group that tendered Hospice – a murky but emotive recording about a hospice worker and a person dying of cancer – and the forlorn Burst Apart.
So when the band announced Undersea on Facebook with a bunch of dolphins and dolphin-related accessories, optimism seemed improbable. Yet here is Undersea, a pretty comforting entry that sonically plays like a swim through the bright blue where dolphins play.
The EP has an undulating quality to it, as though each song washes in and out as part of some cosmic rhythm effect. Frontman Peter Silberman commands with restraint, drawing pieces together with themes of drifting and melting in limitless deep.
It’s true that “Drift Drive” isn’t a buoyant opener from a lyrical standpoint, but breakers of ambient noise offset the message’s ruggedness. While Silberman sings of a drowning planet, Antlers mesh together with horns and harps and sounds to produce a floating effect.
The eight and a half minutes of “Endless Ladder” seem to be the flagship of Undersea. It has kind of a Boards of Canada quality, which makes sense, but it also surpasses the whole hip-kid values by simply being an authentic chunk of expression. It works as an ambient loop or, in its own way, a pretty good indie rock tune.
The moves through “Crest” and “Zelda” aren’t as compelling or all-consuming, but they still complete the picture and help with the dive.
This EP reads and writes like an album. It may only be a touch over 20 minutes, but the apparition of Undersea is a complete one. Antlers have produced another generally pleasing collection of sound and substance, proving that those with-it Brooklyn cats may be on to something after all.