Undersea, the latest EP from Brooklyn-based indie act The Antlers, certainly lives up to its name. This four-song project uses atmospheric synths, effected piano sounds, heavily reverbed guitars, muted horns and more to create a sonic experience that makes you feel like you’re swimming underwater.
In just a few years, The Antlers have certainly come a long way in their evolution, from being a lo-fi solo project by Peter Silberman to an experimental, ambient rock trio that has earned the respect and acclaim of the entire indie community. Their music is something to be experienced, not just heard. This EP is no exception.
As for Undersea itself, the album plays like something that just sort of happened and emerged, rather than something planned or staged or strategized about—like the band was given some space to fill, and ultimately decided to fill the space with water (theoretically speaking, of course). For that reason, it really should not be taken as a re-defining of The Antlers’ constantly evolving sound. The aquatic vibe is most likely restricted to this EP as a theme in itself, and their next work will probably sound completely different.
While the EP stays in a mellow, dreamy state, Undersea also has a brighter vibe than some of The Antlers’ earlier, darker work. The tension and melancholy of albums like Hospice have been replaced with subtle shadings of light, like the sun rays playfully dancing under the water. (No, I’m not trying to overstate the metaphor; it really does sound like that.) It’s more than just a sonic diversion for the band; it’s more like a mood shift.
Most people think of an EP as a sort of tide-you-over sort of thing—something bands put out to keep the fans interested in between full-length releases. But I have to say that Undersea has set the bar of expectation rather high for the fans. This is anything but a throw-away effort by The Antlers; it’s highly creative and imaginative and complex. If this is any indication of things to come, we have a lot to look forward to. If this was an anomaly—let’s just say The Antlers have their work cut out for them with their next record.