Feature Album: The Antlers: Hospice
A few years ago, Peter Silberman, aka The Antlers, went through a rough patch. He felt distanced from his friends and family, and didn't feel like getting out much. To get through it, he holed up in his Brooklyn apartment and wrote and recorded, over two years, a suite of songs. To capture all that he was feeling, he made up two characters: a terminally ill girl suffering from bone cancer and her carer.
"Hospice came from the idea of caring for a terminal patient who's mentally abusive to you," the Brooklyn-based songwriter said of the idea behind Hospice. "You don't have the right to argue with them, either, because they're the one who's dying here; they're the one that's been dealt a wrong hand. So you take it, but you can only take so much. Eventually, you realise that this person is just destroying you."
That a concept album born out of such a high-minded and depressing premise is neither pretentious nor a downer is pretty remarkable. That Hospice is actually entirely engaging, thoroughly cathartic and, yes, even catchy is testament to the power of Silberman's vision and songwriting, his refusal to look for easy answers, overplay his hand, or wallow in the darkness he's navigating through.
The Antlers began as Silberman's solo project. Starting just after he finished high school, Silberman released a stream of albums under the moniker. During the writing and recording of Hospice, Silberman enlisted the help of drummer Michael Lerner and multi-instrumentalist Darby Cicci, and The Antlers became, for all intents and purposes, a band.