The Antlers' 'Green to Gold' Is a Coming-of-Age for the Modern Millennial
Published Mar 23, 2021Take the traditional Bildungsroman, swap the protagonist for a man in his early thirties and set it to music — you'll immediately see what the Antlers' sixth album, Green to Gold, is all about.
Following a seven-year hiatus after 2014's Familiars, Peter Silberman and Michael Lerner return with a master class in quiet contemplation and coming-of-age for the modern millennial. Musically pared back and stripped of any vestige of electronic influences from the days of Burst Apart, the starkly minimal Green to Gold draws close the intimacy of Silberman's hushed tones.
It's indie music, yes, but there are clear folk elements at play ⏤ something inherently pastoral, earthly and bound to the oral transmission of truth through song. The titular "Green to Gold" is a good example; a literal ode to the four seasons that charts the passage of time. "Solstice," too, deals with this theme as Silberman croons "The week went slow / The year flew by." What should register as tired imagery and clichéd metaphors by all accounts is somehow rendered more true, genuine and haltingly beautiful given the Silberman and Lerner treatment. Green to Gold is, at times, quite literal in its depictions of Silberman's personal experiences and other times intensely figurative, staring into the void of existentialism ("Am I incidental?" he asks on "Volunteer") with the kind of quiet assurance only the Antlers can evoke.
For once, the band's album doesn't haunt you like an untethered ghost as is the case with most of their material (the spectre of Hospice forever looms large). Instead it charts the rolling hills, long stretches of flat road, and peaks and valleys of growing into adulthood, as well as the inevitable loss of innocence and ossification of growing older.
While a reverence for Mother Nature is apparent across the album's 10 tracks, the heart of Green to Gold's most poignant tracks comes from looking inward. "Stubborn Man" and "Just One Sec" are both bittersweet meditationson what it means to be human and the limitations we cannot escape. "Could you clear my cache momentarily? / For just one sec, free me from me," Silberman sings longingly. However, what could quickly spiral into a darkly depressing rumination on the meaning of life and invading cynicism of aging is saved by the strange comfort in knowing that we are following a pattern that nature itself has laid out. There is resignation, sure, but also acceptance. It is what it is.
In the immortal words of Robert Frost, "Nothing gold can stay." And on their latest venture, the Antlers help us come to terms with just that. (Anti)