Following a quiet seven years, The Antlers have made a return with their new album Green To Gold. At the time, the problem I had with their previous album, Familiars, was the length of tracks, some of which didn’t have any rewarding payoff at the end. Though it was not much of a hindrance with it’s array of unique dream-pop overtones taking the driver’s seat after a dance with chamber-pop on the remarkable Burst Apart. Green to Gold, however, is a slightly new direction for the duo from Brooklyn. It brings the aspects of the dream pop sounds and blends it with a progression of the alternative rock style of their past to create this array of beautiful cohesion from start to finish.
Opening with a pure and elegantly arranged orchestration of sounds on the song, “Strawflower,” which takes certain influence in the patterns more resonate with the undercoats of jazz music with the alternative rock overtones, like the more rhythmic upward bass with slower patterns and electric guitar with pedal effects. It sets up a tempo for what to expect as it progresses. Balancing sonic styles with the lively atmosphere and looming dark piano keys contrasting, leaving room open for the contextual mood it wants to set forth. What is ultimately delivered is tonal shifts that evoke hope and longing, amongst other themes in various ways, but as cohesive constant.
The production Green to Gold is dreamy and atmospheric, deriving from chamber and dream-pop like subtexts in the guitar riffs; and the percussion plays into being simple – vibrant undertones to keep a fluid rock-like rhythm, while also allowing room for the varying orchestration of instruments to progress the pop-vocal dynamic. This has been a strength for The Antlers, specifically Peter Silberman’s vocals. It’s raspy and atmospheric melodies, sounding at times defeated, bring forth the themes/content within the songwriting.
Within the context of the songs, The Antlers dive into their themes and stories with an array of rock songs, where the story flows like an elegant night café rendition, but with better production value. There is an ongoing concept about certain thoughts we have that eclipse the change we sometimes never see for ourselves going forward. This is told through the story of man’s existential journey through stagnant memories over the years, but with smooth thematic transitions.
“Solstice,” focuses on a story about a summer fling, where it came and went with some lasting memories, but it doubles as this notion that one can have those dark thoughts or demons within and still find ways to keep you positivity up and your mental status balanced. It’s like a glimmer of hope for individual change and the following song “Stubborn Man,” beautifully contrasts this by being the existential quandary of “should I continue to poop, or get off the pot.”
Like Familiars, some songs start to trend up into longer orchestrations, but it blends in a way where it doesn’t linger on a “thought.” The title track, “Green to Gold,” is seven minutes long, but it never starts to feel like it wrought experience waiting for it to end like on the song “Revisited,” off Familiars. It isn’t like “Green to Gold,” simply because the trumpet-closer feels like an idea without depth, as oppose to “Green to Gold,” having a smooth and definitive end. “Green to Gold” is about transition, using seasonal change to tell the everlong process one can go to, to better oneself mentally. The production is uncanny on the surface, as much about the instrumentations doesn’t seem to be ever changing, but the subtle changes are there in the vocal pitches and the soft-dreamy guitar riffs.
Green to Gold’s instrumentations are reminiscent of the work they’ve done in the past, but with the depth filled in an uncanny way. The broken down instrumentations add a lot to the projection of Silberman’s vocals and the writing has a distinct cadence that you just get lost in the dream as flower pedals sway softly in the wind over spring flowers. It stays on that flow as Green to Gold cycles back from the closer, “Equinox,” a lively and hopeful instrumental that shows us a light at the end of our tunnel.
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