Few records have expressly meditated on the searing pain of loving the dying like The Antlers’ Hospice, which refocused a desperate situation into a singular whole. The story played out over a push-and-pull between straightforward melodies and the creep and crash of experimental texture. The Brooklyn trio’s follow-up, Burst Apart, didn’t replicate the thematic inertia of its forbearer. Instead, the band devoted intricate, electronic post-rock toward more pop-addled tunes. If the album was meant as an answer to the anguish of Hospice, it’s a murky one, prioritizing emotive distance over direct comment. Hospice was a gash; Burst Apart, a band-aid.
Undersea takes that detachment one step further. Clocking in at just over 22 minutes, the EP is four tracks of lush sonic exploration. It’s a dreamscape of slide guitars, bending horns, drowsy vocals and glitchy samples. Album opener “Drift Dive” offers a lazy, percussive groove. “Endless Ladder” hints at oceanic depths, with a billow of keys and robotic whines. Fizzy electronics and percussion cozy up to jazzy horn swells on “Crest.” Closer “Zelda” traps the listener between dreams, swimming through deadpan vocals, trancy synths, muted horns and the rock steady crackle of a snare. The songs flirt with psychedelic blooms, noir-tinged jazz and woozy pop. Whether it marks a permanent shift or a momentary whim is hard to divine.