Smile Politely

Gored by the Antlers

A couple of months ago, a writer friend posted a video to his blog. He didn’t write anything to contextualize it and the post was titled only “‘Bear’ by The Antlers.”

Now, I don’t actually know a lot about music because I’m boring, and like many people, my musical tastes are largely still built on the foundation of what I listened to during my formative years, i.e. high school and college. Which means mostly ’90s-era “alternative,” or “grunge” or whatever other similarly scare-quoted label you want to give it. Also, I rarely read anything online, and certainly don’t watch videos posted to blogs, because…well, frankly, because I’m too busy hitting refresh on my email and I only check the blogs that I do because I’m narcissistically checking in to see if they mentioned me, or at least someone I know. Which is all to say, I perhaps never should have discovered The Antlers at all.

But! It turns out that whatever currently “cool” music I listen to, I likely found via this writer friend. Not to mention the still image from the video, before it starts — the gorgeous fall colors, the almost Winona Ryder-like beauty of the girl (or maybe it’s more Jennifer Connelly circa Labyrinth?), the way her hair falls down across her eye. And finally, more than either of those reasons, there was the name of the band. The Antlers. How has no band used that before? How has every band not used that before? I don’t want to say “best band name ever!” and, of course, it is possible that you, dear reader, don’t share my same fascination with antlers and the animals they come attached to, but, needless to say, I was intrigued. Hooked, maybe, if one were to attempt a pun. Gored?

Yes. Let’s go with that. Gored. It sounds far too violent for a band that writes such beautiful songs, but that’s The Antlers’ trick, especially on their debut album Hospice, and perhaps even most especially with “Bear.” The songs, individually and moreso when collected into the whole of the album, lure you in with nursery-rhyme-like simplicity and, dare I say it, prettiness, so much so that you find yourself barely listening but just letting yourself get carried away in a kind of calm. And then you listen closer and, at first, the precision of the songwriting hits you with lines you repeat over and over, until you eventually start putting the pieces together, and the emotions hidden behind and inside and even on top of a kind of sing-songy-ness hit you, knock you over and leave you feeling exhausted.

At least that’s how it happened to me, after I watched that video over and over for days on end. Even though I don’t have Internet in my apartment, I can sometimes grab a bar or two from a neighbor, just enough to to be able to listen to the song and watch the video in little 7-40 second chunks. It was frustrating, but I couldn’t stop until I eventually went out and got the album. Which you should do, too, if you haven’t already. Preferrably right after (or maybe even before, depending on when you read this and how much time you have) seeing them this Saturday at the Canopy Club.

The Antlers play tomorrow night (April 17th) at the Canopy Club with special guest Phantogram. Tickets are $12 in advance and the show starts at 8 p.m.

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