There‚Äôs a lot of terror on the second album from Brooklyn trio The Antlers‚ÄĒwhich is a little strange, given that the album is fearless. Seemingly unconcerned about whether his work might be criticized as overcooked, songwriter Peter Silberman has crafted a concept piece populated with slow-motion feedback cyclones, melodies lifted from nursery rhymes, cavernous loud/soft shifts, and lyrics fixated on life‚Äôs little themes: love, death, and guilt. Reference points abound, from Godspeed You Black Emperor‚Äôs protracted moodiness to My Bloody Valentine‚Äôs pink-tinged guitar tones to Arcade Fire‚Äôs death-obsessed, life-affirming choruses. And yet Hospice sidesteps clich√©, or at least overwhelms it.

Songs emerge from the mist, bump against one another, and dissipate in the space of one track. There‚Äôs a straightforward appeal to the album‚Äôs dynamism and fatalism, but that appeal swells with each close listen: Slowly, it becomes clear that the album‚Äôs central narrative, in which a cancer sufferer screams at her caregiver, is a well-constructed allegory for an emotionally abusive relationship. On both levels, the protagonist pins his conscience to the fate of someone doomed to self-destruct. ‚ÄúWake‚ÄĚ delivers resolution: ‚ÄúSome patients can‚Äôt be saved, but that burden‚Äôs not on you.‚ÄĚ And yet the album ends with a nightmare ballad about that lost patient. Fear persists: It‚Äôs a message that, like Hospice‚Äôs music, isn‚Äôt as simple as it sounds.

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