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Review: Bleachers ‘Bleachers’

Bleachers, the latest band bringing the best of stylish American alternate rock from New Jersey, have returned with their fourth Self-Titled record. Fronted by Grammy-Award winning singer-songwriter and record producer Jack Antonoff, the band once again disposed of the musical norms and have pieced together a soulful and unique release.

Antonoff is renowned for being a master at his art after working with some of the world’s biggest artists, including Taylor Swift, Lana Del Rey, and The 1975; he’s won eight Grammy Awards and has filled the charts with multiple ‘Album of the Year’ winning records. For him, his band Bleachers is a continuation of his success and lifelong dream to write and perform his own music. The first three albums, Strange Desire (2014), Gone Now (2017) and Take the Sadness Out of Saturday Night (2021) all saw the bands’ continued progression and developing maturity, and brought with them some beloved numbers including I Wanna Get Better, Don’t Take the Money, and Rollercoaster. Their upcoming fourth album promises to show off Bleachers at the peak of their powers and brings a tasteful variety of bright warmth and desolate sadness with it. The lens in which this release was written has “Changed wildly” from their previous albums, according to Antonoff.

The first offering of the record is the introductory instrumental to I am Right on Time, which throws us right into the musical depths which follow. The impressive layering to this track makes it audibly pleasing, with those distinct echo-laden vocals of Antonoff welcoming us to his chamber of coolly crafted American rock in a matter of seconds. It’s an eventful but expertly executed opening track.

The lead single of the record, Modern Girl, follows, and since its release late last year, it’s become a triumphant tune that for me personally, is their most notable on the record. The sweeping saxophone is ever-present throughout, and it seems as if each instrument takes centre stage individually; it blends perfectly with the vocals, which one may closely compare with the free-rocking lyrics of Billy Joel’s We Didn’t Start the Fire, one of Antonoff’s many inspirations. Collectively, it’s a playful number which shows they’re enjoying themselves whilst also maintaining their homegrown natives across the pond, which are weaved within. Such things extend across to the subsequent number, Jesus Is Dead, which tones down the backing indie-synth-pop feel to reveal a powerful theme of charity which also sits close with Antonoff.

The placement of tracks within the record feels all-to perfect, and many of the following songs are those with deeper meaning and may connect closely to listeners. The beloved ballad of Me for You settles gently on the ear, with a calming but almost stirring saxophone paired with sombre lyrics carving out the beginning of this more personal sequence. There are glimmers of euphoria sought through the sadness in the sixth track Tiny Moves, a restless synth-heavy tune emphasising the joy his recent marriage has brought, particularly evident in the recurring lyrics “The tiniest moves you make, watching my whole world shake.” It’s simply sublime and seems a lot different too much of Antonoff’s previous material; a shift towards more of a pop-rock genre. Sandwiched between this exclusive duo sits the second single released from the record, Alma Mater, which collaborates with the award-winning singer-songwriter Lana Del Rey. It’s a thoughtful and experimental, but sonically still feels distinctively like Antonoff; the addition of Lana’s restful vocals throughout caps off a pure and honest track which is delivered expertly.

The variety in musical styles throughout the record is as cool as you like, and subtly nods to the differing styles of all Antonoff’s previous collaborators and artists. Evidence of such is particularly prevalent across the subsequent tracks Isimo and Woke Up Today, both which leave you with a real sense of who Bleachers truly are.

The seamless transition into the following number, Self-Respect leaves listeners in awe of Antonoff once again, with the track exploring his exhaustion with being a perfectionist in every aspect of life, a theme many may closely relate with in the modern society. It’s a lyrically-sound number, referencing the commercialisation and confrontation of these feelings within an individual, and questioning the unusual nature of how life functions. It feels like one of Antonoff’s more personal tracks, but one executed with sheer brilliance.

Whilst there’s clear evidence of the subtle nods to other musical collaborations throughout the record, there’s also many signposts to Antonoff’s musical influences too, including an expressive presence of Springsteen throughout Hey Joe. A prime blend of guitars, sax, and tinkling vocals here all combine into an unwaveringly tasteful number which is simply ear-pleasing.

The record begins to conclude, and in the same way their previous album did, the slower, low energy tracks are saved until last. Call Me After Midnight and We Are Going to Know Each Other Forever commence the closing numbers on this remarkable record and are built with sheer passion and soul which masterfully encapsulate the variety of emotions tapped into in this record by Antonoff. It’s the epic soundtrack to a heartbroken sunset drive in the centre of your own world. Ordinary Heaven, the penultimate track, is a truly embraceable sonic, and will turn heads with its uniqueness; it’s a sentimental conclusion which entwines reassurance for listeners perfectly. To conclude the record with The Waiter feels simplistic and cool, and like an anticlimax to what has been a soulful celebration of a proudly produced album, felt in the hearts of listeners; it’s the best of the bunch from Bleachers.

Antonoff has shown he is reaching new heights of musical royalty with this well-constructed showcase of material. It’s a record which is raw and ready and strengthens close bonds to those close to Antonoff; his wife, his sister, and his sheer love and passion for music. Listeners should eagerly prepare themselves for Bleachers, the self-titled record by Bleachers, that will be landing victoriously worldwide on the 8th of March 2024

4.7 rating
Total Score
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