Almost 7 years after the release of 2014’s ‘Familiars’, The Antlers make a comeback in the most unexpected fashion – by putting out their most cheerful material yet. Their latest album, ‘Green to Gold’ is an elegant collection of songs that exude a profound sense of calm without ever straying into the realm of boredom.
Frontman Peter Silberman describes it as “the first album I’ve made that has no eeriness in it”, and given their track record it’s a breath of fresh air. After the roaring critical success of 2009’s soul-withering ‘Hospice’, ‘Green to Gold’ is a marked shift towards meandering lilts and warm ballads, sharing little to no DNA with the furious trumpeting and tear-jerking howls of grief found on their best-known release.
The album as a whole is a stark contrast to Silberman’s last solo effort released in 2017, ‘Impermanence’ – the desolate soundscape occupied by his penetrating falsetto and sparse instrumentation is replaced by warm, space-filling arrangements. His voice, once perfectly suited to melancholic wails, is transformed into honeyed and soothing tones. Each track is an airy and warm affair, with the opening track Strawflower immediately setting the tone. Its lack of vocals gives the entire ensemble an opportunity to shine, with each instrument melding together to form a call and response reminiscent of insect cicadas and chirps.
Natural motifs are a recurring feature, with rushing wind and crackles blending into the backdrop of tracks like Volunteer and the titular Green to Gold – the latter even features an ambient backing choir of crickets. There’s a distinctly pastoral tinge to the album, with its gentle piano arrangements evoking verdant green expanses and rolling hills. These slow tempos and indulgent instrumentation present an undoubted maturation of their sound, worlds apart from their earlier releases.
It’s clear the group has gone through a graceful process of ageing, and the content of certain tracks further allude to this – It Is What It Is is the album at its most touching, reflecting on the unstoppable force of change.
Silberman’s lyricism is as cryptic as ever, illustrating the pangs that come with knowing you could have done better in the past. It’s neither negative or positive, but rather a shoulder-shrugging acceptance that it’s a waste of time to ruminate on what could have been. “The call could’ve been answered, the wall would’ve been questioned, the fall should’ve been prevented, but it is what it is”
An unfortunate side effect of the album’s almost imperceptible transitions is that many of the tracks end up running into one another without any recognisable variation. By the time the instrumental closer, Equinox finishes up, the sudden silence is like snapping out of a farmland-inspired trance.
Green to Gold crafts such a genuinely comfortable space that you’ll feel reluctant to leave by the end of its 47 minute runtime. It’s an impressive switch-up in style from The Antlers – an oddly familiar, autumnal watercolour painting pressed into a record.
‘Green to Gold’ is available to listen to on the Antlers website now by joining their mailing list here