As the lead singer and songwriter for the Brooklyn-based band The Antlers, Peter Silberman has built a career around soft-spoken and noisy indie rock. He’s a pretty dark guy, especially when it comes to his songwriting, but on The Antlers’ latest effort, Familiars, from 2014, their music took on the most upbeat tone yet. Like a man sleepwalking and crooning his innermost thoughts, Peter Silberman has operated in his own world, and it’s paid off highly when it comes to crafting his own unique sound.
On his proper debut, even though all of the Antlers records have also been written by him, Silberman takes on a new approach that leans heavily towards empty space. Like someone on the brink of mental collapse, it often helps to get somewhere quiet and peaceful, which seems to be the motif here on Impermanence. “I’m disassembling piece by piece,” is the first vocal of the record, a line so synonymous with the Antlers’ tone that it might not even glance off the long-time fans’ ears. The idea of falling apart has been the M.O. for Antlers since their 2009 indie-rock staple “Hospice,” a record about a relationship between a patient suffering from terminal bone cancer and her hospice worker, and their follow-up Burst Apart, which even by title alone gets the gist across without having to even mention tracks like “Every Night My Teeth Are Falling Out.”
It’s not by any means mocking Silberman’s music with the Antlers, a band that I truly enjoy (especially their record Bursting Apart), but to say that they’ve explored a true variety of themes and song topics would be far from the truth. It’s something easily demonstrable when it comes to Impermanence, Silberman’s solo debut. The opening track “Karuna” drones on, “New York” feels like someone homesick for a place they already live in, and “Gone Beyond” acts as an 8-minute mantra for the “partially destroyed.”
Impermanence might be another metaphor-driven, minimalist project from Silberman, but its one seemingly devoid of any real musicality, as his whispering croon escapes his mouth in pitiful, anguished tones over the course of the entire record. In creating a sparse, and empty record that encompasses the sorrowful sounds of silence, he’s done his job for over a half-hour, but it’s nothing that he hasn’t already expertly expressed with the Antlers over the course of their previous three records.