The Antlers are part of a tradition of ultra-earnest indie bands whose songs delve into the rawest and most difficult parts of human experience. Their last album, Hospice, lingered on abortion, cancer, and death. Hospice’s sorrowful, guilt-ridden confessions were visceral and searing, and listening was a mostly gut-wrenching experience spiked with occasional cathartic highs. “Parenthesis,” from The Antlers’ new record, Burst Apart, isn’t wholly different in tone and texture from the songs on Hospice. The song is still emotional, the arrangement still complex, the vocals still sung in angelic falsetto. Yet “Parenthesis” is permeated by a colder, more self-serving bitterness than the storytelling on Hospice. With lyrics like “I don’t owe you anything,” and “You know when I want to leave,” the “Parenthesis” of the song's title becomes a gnarled addendum to a relationship’s end. Few acts other than The Antlers could make desperation and angst look like a healthy progression.
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