I was having trouble weaving this into some sort of coherent narrative, so I’ll just make a list:
1. Burst Apart is an album of songs about destructive love and disturbing dreams. It is creepy, strange and hilarious.
2. The Antlers have turned into quite an adept band, able to follow these songs where they need to go. From quiet reflection to dramatic moodiness to hypnotic to intense, they kind of do it all here. This is the first album like that for them, and they can go anywhere now.
3. The album opens with the line “You want to climb up the stairs / I want to push you back down,” which totally sets the tone of the whole album. The Antlers “I Don’t Want Love”
4. Burst Apart was a big grower for me, as it slowly rose all the way up my rankings to #2 here. Every time I listened, I liked it more and more and I just kept bumping it up.
5. In many instances, these were the catchiest songs I heard all year.
6. Catchy, yes. But slightly odd and off-putting too. (See, #3.) Other lines: “Every time we speak / You are spitting in my mouth” and “I’m a bad amputee with no phantom memory” and “they want to conquer you, abandon you / I want to burden you, belong to you.” I mean, it is not like he crosses a line into disturbing, but the metaphors are just enough off-center to make you uncomfortable. And it’s GREAT.
7. The Antlers reference teeth falling out in a couple of songs. In psychoanalysis dream interpretation, “Teeth in dreams represent your power, your psychical energy, in other words, your strength. When you see your own teeth falling out in a dream this means that you are losing your power. This is a very serious warning. You are in great danger! You are losing your power to act and do something to change reality. You are losing your capability to accomplish something. Why? Because you are making costly mistakes.” Those costly mistakes seem to me to be exactly what this album is about. The Antlers “Every Night My Teeth Are Falling Out”
8. That falsetto!
9. The drama in the songs is also exciting. The nervous drums on “Parentheses” provide a base, on which the singer joins, and then the bass. It all feels so natural, as well as expertly done. You get a similar feel on most songs: a sense of ease but also perfection, the sense that these songs are what they must be.