|Rating: 5 / 5
Reviewer: Andre Guimond
Shrouded in the mystery of whether or not Hospice tells the real or imagined story of frontman Peter Silberman’s loss of a lover to bone cancer, this is a heart wrenching album undoubtedly full of the expression of real pain and misery, regardless of its back story. You can’t help but sympathize with his loss, dreamed, projected, or otherwise, with lyrics like, “In the middle of the night I was sitting sleeping up, when a doctor came to tell me, ‘Enough is enough.’”
Driven by Silberman’s evocative delivery, Hospice works so well because it matches all the suffering of remembering with the strength of telling. It’s all wrapped up in relatively low-fi trappings, like on standout ‘Two,’ where an acoustic backing guitar blends into sparse drumming and metallic whines as it builds and climaxes beautifully – and hauntingly – into a desperate, angry eulogy. “Daddy was an asshole, he fucked you up / built the gears in your heads, now he greases you up / And no one paid attention when you just stopped eating. ‘Eighty-seven pounds!’ / And this all bears repeating.”
It feels like The Antlers’ game is to bring us back to ourselves, to cement the place of pain in our lives as an unavoidable and irreplaceable well of humanity. Hospice tells us that we need that pain; it’s what forms the basis of being able to relate to others, of sympathy and community and the universal ability to move on and reconnect with the help of stories, with the help of others hearing them.