Anchored by Michael Lerner's drumming, the group used a familiar, slow-building approach, eventually making full use of loud/soft dynamics. Initially hushed songs metamorphosed into gripping, intensely executed exercises in rock catharsis. The haunting "Kettering" was one example, a suitably brooding number off Hospice, the Antlers' debut album (essentially a solo Silberman song cycle concerning a terminally ill patient's drawn-out death).
Now a full band, the Antlers still deal on their new album with dark themes, albeit more generalized. "Putting the Dog to Sleep," which closed out their regular set at the church (and concludes Burst Apart), makes clever use of mournful metaphor over a lilting, classic pop-song beat.
What initially seems like it might be the best pet-death lament since Terry Jacks' revered 1974 B-side "Put the Bone In" - and with a truly heartrending song subject that might even have made some old-school "emo" seem less whiny - is instead a study in relationship dialogue. "My trust in you," intoned Silberman, "Is a dog with a broken leg/ Tendons too torn to beg/ For you, to let me back in." In the persona of the other partner, he then sang back, "Trust me to take you home/ To clean up that blood/ All over your paws."
Little Scream was a pleasant revelation for many, being chiefly Montreal-based Iowa native Laurel Sprengelmeyer on vocals and guitar, with four cohorts fleshing out her songs via some serious rock kick or Arcade Fire-ish baroque pop touches (including bass flute). Little Scream's musical convulsions on "Red Hunting Jacket" (off her recent debut album The Golden Record) boomed impressively up and around the church's expanse, as if wanting to soar right through the roof.