On ‘Green to Gold’, The Antlers’ first new album in seven years, Peter Silberman documents two years in his life, without shrouding the the themes of the song in mystery and metaphors: ‘I think this is the first album I’ve made that has no eeriness in it. I set out to make Sunday morning music’.
The instrumental opener ‘Strawflower’ is full of twinkly emo guitar tones and samples of nature sounds while the layers of instrumentation effortlessly add to the sound to make something that is beautiful and full of depth. This is followed by the recent single ‘Wheels’ Roll Home’, which again shows a warmer side to the band with is wonky bass, breezy melodies and positive yet melancholic lyrics: ‘Don’t go before you leave, every second we got, we gotta make believe’. ‘Solstice’ is based around the longest day and how we know we’re moving into summer when it comes around with the lyrics ‘The week went slow, the year flew by from the end of June back to last July’ unwittingly summing up the strange timeframe we’ve all lived through over the past 12 months. There are elements of Sparklehorse or Julien Baker in the sound while the message about holding on to those special moments is resolutely hopeful: ‘We can see in the dark with our sunset sight. We delay the dusk, keepin’ bright bright bright’.
‘Stubborn Man’ finds Peter evaluating his own behaviour – ‘Maybe I’m strong-willed, settled at a standstill. Maybe I’m headstrong, iffy, but rarely wrong’; ‘My overgrown comfort zone, my narrow mind is mine alone’ – and seeing how he can change for the better, while ‘Just One Sec’ continues in this soul-searching vein. Restrained and refined with stop-start moments and vocal harmonies blending together, Peter asks ‘Do you think you could free me from the man I’ve been?’ ‘It Is What It Is’ takes in the changing of the seasons and beauty of nature and how it carries on turning, regardless of your personal circumstances and even touches upon mortality – a theme we all know The Antlers cover so well: ‘This is the first day our friend is free from pain. Voyaging on while the rest of us remain’.
‘Volunteer’ takes you on a voyage of discovery (‘Galloping, inhabiting, nothing inessential. Scattering, wondering, ‘am I incidental?”) against a sound that falls between Phil Elverum and Spiritualized, while ‘Green to Gold’ is a 7-minute long centrepiece that again focuses on the differences between seasons and how early morning walks give you the chance to admire these wondrous moments, while also understanding just how very small we all are: ‘Sun is climbing out from underneath, lighting up and roasting tired leaves green to gold’. Peter also references frost and ice before looping back round to the following spring (‘eager bits of green start peeking through’) and summer when, rather inevitably: ‘We sit in front of fans and wait for rain’.
The penultimate ‘Porchlight’ opens with acoustic strums and offers an examination of faith – ‘Trying to retrace my steps to God, shining my light but my light looks odd, like it’s walling me in’ – amidst a waltzy effects before the potent and slightly Americana-tinged sound of the instrumental closer ‘Equinox’ rounds off the album in grand style.
Gently stirring and oh so relatable, ‘Green to Gold’ is a golden listen from one of the finest bands around.