Album Review

Bleachers - Bleachers

Nothing short of remarkable.

Bleachers - Bleachers

Ask any music lover and they’ll tell you a story of being in a car at night with the stereo on, either nestled up in the backseat in the safety blanket of a loved one behind the wheel or upfront with friends watching the streetlights glide by to an often-accidental soundtrack. Power ballads complement a seemingly endless darkness to each side of the road, and energetic pop encourages spontaneous group singalongs at top volume as the sun sets on the horizon. Steeped in blissful American nostalgia, Bleachers’ sublime self-titled fourth studio album embodies it all, from the rolling vistas to the warmth of distant city lights, at once watching the world pass by and deeply cemented in a moment. It’s rare for an album to capture a feeling so intensely, promoting a universal recognition through something so intrinsically linked to an individual’s time and place. Don’t make a mistake; these are Jack Antonoff’s realities, with countless references to New Jersey sitting against often playful takes on deeply personal circumstances. But it’s the atmosphere that reaches beyond the confines of one singular life, with Jack’s tongue-in-cheek lyricism effortlessly inviting all into the fold.

It’s built on a nostalgia to a time that never was, a perfectly balanced ‘80s-esque drum machine driving the beat across fourteen tracks that unapologetically cross generational boundaries. The epic ‘Ordinary Heaven’ pulls a Bon Iver-like ethereal, experimental sound forcefully back in time and right back to the present at a blink of the eye, complete with a near acid jazz breakdown so far removed from Bleachers’ sound to date that builds to a rallying spoken word crescendo. It’s a remarkable feat against the pure audible joy of ‘Tiny Moves’ and the understated frivolity of ‘Self Respect’ – a track that captures the unabridged abandon of a palpable youth whilst making it feel so attainable to anyone at any age. “I’m so tired of having self-respect,” he sings on a call to arms against the norm, “Let’s do something I’ll regret”. Both Jack and his sound are freeing, open and profoundly relatable, a leap away from 2021’s densely self-reflective ‘Take The Sadness Out Of Saturday Night’. When they rear their head, moments of darkness exist as part of a wider storytelling that presents life as an ever-changing journey, never tied to one single emotion or place. Much like those nostalgic night-drives, the streetlights keep rolling to present something new at every turn. That Jack has spent much of his time collaborating with the best in the business and still has so much left for himself is nothing short of remarkable.

Tags: Bleachers, Reviews, Album Reviews

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