Hospice means a great many things to a great many people.

Thought of as The Antlers' debut by most, to be fair, it was the project’s first iteration as a proper band, but leader Peter Silberman had in fact toiled on two albums under the moniker, on his lonesome, prior. Still, it felt, and still feels, like the proper realization of a vision, numerous in influences, yet a stark, pained masterpiece all its own.

It was one of those special albums: somehow, its audience seemed to immediately gravitate towards it, discovering a still unsigned band. Moreover, it proved one of those precious, rare occurrences: so deep in its convictions, in its tortured, brutally intimate sense of realization, that near anyone you might meet who adores Hospice feels convinced the album was meant to talk to them. So much did it shatter hearts, and speak to whatever a desperate listener may have been going through in 2009, how could it not have been?

I had just turned 20 not but 3 days prior to Hospice’s release on March 23, 2009. I cannot recall if I heard the album then or later. It wouldn’t matter, as it would become so consumed in what was to shortly follow. A few weeks later, my friend, and long time crush, would be murdered.

All music became about her, or rather, about myself. LCD Soundsystem’s ‘Someone Great’? Goes without saying. The Hold Steady’s Almost Killed Me? Surely that summer might have. My lack of desire to eat, while I sat in a La-Z-Boy binging Buffy the Vampire Slayer to get by between bouts of moaning and mourning, so malnourished I grew entirely lightheaded from a single cigarette, barely able to muster the energy to stumble towards a daily shower. Even Eminem’s largely dismissed Relapse found a home in my emotions, his violent, pained tribute to slain lifelong friend Proof, reveling in his darkest impulses, twisting formerly clever humor into something vile and sad, spoke to my worst moments at the time. ‘Beautiful’ may have felt heavy handed to some, but it hit me with a wallop on the regular.

Yet, nothing stood above Hospice. Silberman may indeed have intended the album to reflect an abusive relationship, and even the concept album’s literal story had far more to do with cancer than murder, but anything so powerfully, singularly focused on a feeling of loss was always going to devastate, and dominate, my young world.

‘Bear’, arguably the album’s solitary, relative bright spot, didn’t do much for me at the time. I do recall thinking the repeated, “We’re not old at all”’s would impact me more some day. What a young little fuck. As I write this, preparing to turn 30, the words do plenty.

At the time, the album’s deepest valleys were where I preferred to reside. ‘Two’ could reduce me to near nothingness (“When we moved here together we were so disappointed / Sleeping out of tune with our dreams disjointed / It killed me to see you getting always rejected,” still hits with brute force to this day), while ‘Wake’ allowed me to claw towards some sense of soldiering on.

Revisiting the album this past week, out of a desire to honor the album’s turning 10, and perhaps as an excuse to re-engage with memories I don’t often touch, brings about odd feelings. The abusive relationship angle speaks more to me now. Aside from actually having experienced love beyond longing, I cannot help but still frame the album around a friend lost. Yet, whereas I once single-mindedly viewed the music as speaking to the pain of losing her, I now hear my still childishly creative self, writhing; dying. The words of 'Epilogue' remain ever the same, but who I see in them has changed: "I'm trying to dig you out but all you want is to be buried there together." I can now see myself, all of us, channeled within the album, as both abuser and victim. Friendships devolved, a tragically petty squabble of who truly knew her best, who deserved to be broken, and who was presumed to be putting on a show. For years, I held this against some, but listening to Hospice now, I only hear scared kids, dealing with death, and processing pains they had no capability of mastering. Abusers all, of our friend’s memory, and perhaps most sadly, ourselves. Try as we might, selfishness seeped into everything, and if there’s anything Hospice understands, it’s that. It has sympathy for us all, even at our worst, and I imagine it’s herein so many have found music that speaks to them.

The music is as powerful as ever, yet as the albums that impact us the deepest often do, it’s fossilized in 2009. This isn’t to say it hasn’t aged well, quite to the contrary, as the indie zeitgeist rather long since jumped ship from the sound that bands of The Antlers’ nature peddled, it feels perhaps fresher than ever. It feels a bit silly now, that I made these songs so about me, yet as I now hear them so removed from my own experiences, it simply deepens my appreciation for how grippingly the band realized these songs, so as to allow any listener to see themselves within their downtrodden world. Still, I can’t help but feel I’m viewing these songs through a fogged window, flailing for feelings I’m no longer vulnerable enough to truly understand.

This only makes Hospice all the more valuable. I may be a bastard of an aging hipster, but so long as these sparse, bruised, painfully honest little songs exist, I can remember that I was indeed a kid with all these damn feelings, that I lived through, yes, the best of times, and certainly the worst of times. An abusive relationship indeed: where I once only heard helpless, sympathetic pain, I'm now wise enough to hear the self-obsession and even cruelty lurking beneath. Hospice is a passage to an era that you couldn’t pay me to relive, yet I’ll never leave behind. Nor would I want to. I imagine I’m not alone.