If the Antlers' debut offering, 2009's magnificently-realized Hospice, rehabilitated the notion of the overwrought concept album, its successor, Burst Apart, is a far more informal affair. Where Hospice forensically documented the demise of a terminally ill cancer patient from the perspective of her besotted partner, Antlers frontman Peter Silberman reports that the Brooklyn three-piece deliberately went into Burst Apart "without a map…we let the songs grow organically." Despite this newfound laissez-faire attitude, the record's mood stays pretty much the same to great effect. The Antlers' forte remains deeply brooding, viscerally emotive epic songs that unfold over vistas of humming synths, gorgeously calibrated guitars, and Silberman's pensive, abstracted-yet-intense lyrical musings. Put simply, the Antlers always sound profound, even when they aren't saying much.
The mood is established on plangent opener "I Don't Want Love," where Silberman's keening falsetto pinpoints the self-doubt and pain of a commitment-phobe, and he continues to unravel through spectral, existential musical essays such as "Parentheses" and narcoleptic single "Every Night My Teeth Are Falling Out." There are echoes of Radiohead on "Rolled Together" and "No Widows," as drummer Michael Lerner sketches a sparse, skeletal tattoo. "Putting the Dog to Sleep" closes the proceedings on an appropriately anguished note, with Silberman howling "Prove to me/ That I'm not gonna die alone." It's lush, lavish and heavy with intimations of mortality — as is the vast majority of this splendid album.