Music, Review

Album review: Bleachers – ‘Bleachers’ – at their most self-assured

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Cutting his teeth as a collaborator with the likes of The 1975, Taylor Swift and Lana Del Rey, Jack Antonoff returns as the talismanic frontman of Bleachers. With the release of their self-titled fourth studio album, the New Jersey sextet have refined their signature blend of synth-pop, new wave and 1980s americana. 

Among a tracklist that is significantly more down tempo than the infectious energy of Bleachers’ previous material, bombastic lead single ‘Modern Girl’ lays down an early gauntlet for the title of best song on the album. Antonoff’s penchant for witty lyricism dovetails with the practically excessive instrumentation, jam-packed with brash saxophone solos at the helm of every chorus, each more catchy than the last. ‘Modern Girl’ shouts high praise to Springsteen and the E Street Band, a touchstone that Antonoff frequently revisits. In lieu with ‘Modern Girl’, ‘Call Me After Midnight’ revels in an unmistakable swagger. 

Having kick-started as Antonoff’s solo project in 2015, Bleachers’ latest iteration includes an impressive roster of familiar collaborators: Lana Del Rey (‘Alma Mater’), Clairo (‘Me Before You’), and Matty Healy (‘Hey Joe’) to name but a few. Patrik Berger also returns to the role of co-producer having earned credits on the band’s previous album, Take The Sadness Out Of Saturday Night. Bleachers benefit greatly by broadening their scope for external influences without ever losing sight of their own identity. 

This record excels in unfamiliar territory, notably Antonoff’s foray as a singer-songwriter. ‘Woke Up Today’ showcases a previously unheard tenderness from the frontman, a short-lived burst of sunshine composed almost entirely by Antonoff’s vocals and an acoustic guitar. What the song lacks in instrumental might, it surpasses in lyrical serenity, a common theme throughout the album. Although some listeners might be left to mourn the high octane nature of the band’s previous projects, album number four finds Bleachers at their most self-assured. 

About the author / 

George Wainwright

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