Jack Antonoff has been working hard these past few years and the results are starting to show. Since his last record with Fun. he’s released his own record, and become a go-to songwriter and producer working with everyone including Taylor Swift, Grimes, Sia and most recently Lorde. Taking his solo project Bleachers forward he brings in friends from his other work, pushes the excitement and lands on a sound for a record that’s interesting while maybe a little simple.
Between buried vocals and spoken recordings, “Dream of Mickey Mantle” opens things on an ambitious note. With high reaching vocal cries and a thudding drum lines the song pushes along before landing in its bass groove that takes it higher into its euphoric second half. With a steady piano drive, “Goodmorning” flows typical piano melodies with vocal samples and some very vocals makes for an interesting listen nonetheless.
Surprisingly “Hate That You Know Me” ditches the funky percussion that closes the preceding track for something more bouncy and dynamic in the track’s hard hitting drums. Filtering in and out with tons of choir-driven harmonies, Antonoff leads singers including Carly Rae Jepsen, Julia Michaels and Sam Dew as the funky beat drips back into the finale. Rolling his vocal lines on the rushing “Don’t Take The Money” Antonoff really pushes his pop sensibilities while still stretching the sonic range. Coming through the final bridge, Lorde’s unusually high pitched backing vocals elevate the track, taking the 80’s inspired track to something more complete.
Bringing a sense of rhythm to the spoken vocals, “Everybody Lost Somebody” takes the choir tones to a more utilitarian place as well as with more church choir feeling as the sadder tone of the song lets the melody provide uplifting moments. The distorted sax adds to the retro aesthetic, and its grandeur which serves to make it more exciting and cheesy at the same time. “All My Heroes” leans into a much more electronic kick, while being notably more sombre in its tone. Carrying a distinctly “Every Breath You Take” feeling while keeping things bombastic with shattering drums and larger-than-life harmonies, the track’s understated size makes it all the more exciting as it builds to its epic finale.
Overflowing with joy, “Let’s Get Married” races with an energetic pop beat, and cascading melodies, making for something that’ll brighten your mood. While redundant, live this track will definitely be a concert highlight. “Goodbye” slips into a slower beat and piano hook for something that aches of mid-2000s R&B being oddly catchy while flowing surprisingly fluidly.
Flaring with riffs at the start of “I Miss Those Day” there’s a sparse push as Antonoff slowly lets the instrumentation slowly seep in, turning it from minimalistic to epic. The personal lyrics also give a transparent and personable side to Antonoff’s music that makes it easier to appreciate. Brining things down, “Nothing Is U” shows a more emotional side of Antonoff’s writing that feels so exposed and raw that it makes his more fun music seem less mature by comparison. As lyrics describe harsh but accurate realities of life growing up he even reflects on some of the strong lyrical beats that make his side project Fun. so enjoyable.
On a weirdly arranged medley, “I’m Ready To Move On/Mickey Mantle Reprise” shifts between Top 40 and frankly experimental song composing. Going for a more low-key mood in its second half the track leads strongly right into the outro. “Foreign Girls” ends things on an artfully auto-tuned note, before its church choir finale that gives one last inspiring moment to take the album out excitedly.
On his sophomore album Jack Antonoff takes Bleacher’s sound to a very specific place in its instrumentation and vocal style. While the album does feel repetitive and sometimes a little bland, there’s no denying he’s landed on a great sound that will sound truly triumphant in future efforts, especially considering the amazing chops he’s displayed through the years.
Words by Owen Maxwell