Heavy on atmosphere and light on hooks, The Antlers’ Hospice was a critical darling in 2009 due to its aspirations and execution, but it lacks replay value. A sort of concept album based around the relationship between a hospice worker and terminally ill female patient, the ambition Peter Silberman writes with is admirable, but is this a topic that needed to be expressed in the format of a record? Songs like “Two” and “Bear” are lively enough to revisit, but overall Hospice too often feels claustrophobic and monotonous. To match the concept of the lyricism the tone is no doubt calculated, and no one can fault The Antlers on execution. Nursery rhyme-like synths dominate the songwriting, things build slowly, textures are added subtly, percussion is minimal, and Silberman’s croon is soft enough for perfect bedside manner. There is some debate as to how autobiographical and how fictional Hospice is, and this not only helped to add to the record's intrigue but also gave The Antlers an added amount of helpful publicity. But regardless of fact or fiction, dealing with the death of loved ones is one of the toughest things any of us has to go through. The Antlers should be applauded for providing a voice to those who might be going through the same thing. The thing is, I already went through the death of a loved one and I know I’ll go through it again; so do I need a record to act as a perpetual reminder?
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