Few bands have shaped my musical preferences as strongly as The Antlers over the last ten years. Burst Apart was gorgeously sinister, like curb-stomping someone to beautiful indie-rock. Undersea had the transformative “Zelda”, which nearly stole this spot. Yet, when I think of The Antlers, I can’t escape the memory of my first time hearing Familiars – and more specifically, when Silberman attained angelic status on the downright otherworldly “Palace.”
Everything about “Palace” is perfect: the elegant pianos that shimmer during the introduction, the regal horns that join in, and the way that Peter Silberman floats above it all – weightless, as if he’s just a spiritual entity observing from afar. For as serene as this song is, it definitely reaches an escalation point starting at the 2:30 mark, when Silberman’s smooth, apparition-like melody launches into full throat, and he delivers one of the most powerful verses in The Antlers’ entire doscography: “He left the tallest peak of your paradise, buried in the bottom of a canyon in hell / But I swear I’ll find your light in the middle, where there’s so little late at night…down in the pit of the well.” The brass then kicks it up a notch as well, and you’re off – floating towards the horizon without a care in the world. It’s the prettiest, classiest song I’ve heard in quite some time.
The best thing about “Palace” might be that it lures me into The Antlers’ beauty every single time. I can’t hear the track and not finish the rest of Familiars. After that, I usually just go back to In The Attic of the Universe and trudge through their entire discography. It’s a journey that means even more to me in light of Silberman’s nearly career-ending hearing/health issues. This is a special band that I’d argue reached a Radiohead-level of transcendence. They’re better than Radiohead of course, but I’ll leave that argument for the comment section below.