Bleachers Self-Titled Review: Jack Antonoff triumphs again

After the release of the four lead singles for their fourth studio album, I was intrigued to see what direction Jack Antonoff took with the self-titled Bleachers album. ‘Modern Girl’, ‘Alma Mater’, ‘Tiny Moves’, and ‘Me Before You’ are four brilliant but incredibly different sounding tracks. However, Bleachers’ self-titled album does not follow one clear direction, rather Antonoff has managed to craft a song for any occasion.

Although you may not be familiar with the name Jack Antonoff, you will certainly have stumbled across his work as a producer. Working with some of the biggest names in the music industry, Antonoff has collaborated with Taylor Swift, including on the thirteen tracks on the standard release of Midnights (2022), as well as working alongside Lorde on her sophomore album Melodrama (2017), an album which is considered as one of the defining albums of the 2010s. Most recently, Antonoff has collaborated with artists such as The 1975 and Florence + the Machine on the original soundtrack of The New Look, an Apple TV+ series. It is fair to say Antonoff is one of the most sought-after producers in the music industry. One may wonder how he has found the time to release an album with his solo project Bleachers. Nevertheless, we should be grateful that he has, as the self-titled Bleachers is a testament to why Antonoff is the recipient of a cabinet full of Grammys.

With a fleeting feature from Lana Del Rey… the track presents a divergence from the spirited opening tracks

The album opens with ‘I Am Right on Time’, a title which seems fitting. The track features a combination of synth and staccato notes that build anticipation for what is to follow. This anticipation is immediately broken as the opening track swiftly explodes into the upbeat, high-energy ‘Modern Girl’, one of the standout tracks from the album. With a saxophone-infused instrumentation that is reminiscent of ‘Stop Making This Hurt’ (Take the Sadness Out of Saturday Night), Antonoff has crafted the perfect concert tune. The combination of saxophones and catchy refrains that Antonoff has become renowned for since he released ‘We Are Young’ and ‘Some Nights’ as the guitarist of fun., is perfect for any concert crowd. “All the modern boys / Are going out tonight,” sings Antonoff.

In contrast, ‘Alma Mater’ offers a slower pace. When ‘Alma Mater’ was released, it took me by surprise. I expected the upbeat, catchy melody of ‘Modern Girl’, yet was greeted with the down-tempo, almost sombre track. With a fleeting feature from Lana Del Rey, with whom Antonoff has collaborated on multiple occasions, the track presents a divergence from the spirited opening tracks. Likewise, the stripped-back ‘Woke Up Today’ features the layering of Antonoff’s voice over the strumming of an acoustic guitar, exemplifying that Bleachers is not a sonically static album.

‘Tiny Moves’ is another standout on the album

Antonoff’s pensive lyricism flows through ‘Self Respect’, in which he laments having to remain perfect in his personal life. “I’m so tired of having self-respect/ let’s do something I’ll regret,” sings Antonoff. Throughout the track, he also questions the impact of influential moments in pop culture history, including the death of Kobe Bryant and Kendall Jenner’s Pepsi advert, as well as there being an element of catharsis to the track as Antonoff mentions the death of his sister, a theme which is also woven through other tracks on the album. The lyricism is also a standout in ‘Jesus Is Dead’. The rather pessimistic words of the track, “Jesus is dead / so is New York”, are juxtaposed by the rhythmic drumbeat and the inclusion of saxophones which unexpectedly interrupts the melody.

As Bleachers is the first album released under the record label Dirty Hit (The 1975, beabadoobee, Rina Sawayama), I was intrigued to discover whether the band diverted their usual style. However, the 80s-inspired love song ‘Tiny Moves’ is proof that Bleachers are still crafting the anthemic tracks that they have produced since the release of their debut album, Strange Desire. With a catchy refrain that is bound to be swirling around your head for days, paired with an infectious drum-beat-driven rhythm, ‘Tiny Moves’ is another standout on the album. Following suit, ‘Me Before You’ and ‘Call Me After Midnight’ offer the infectious melody lines that are infused throughout Bleachers’ albums.

Despite the masterful ordering of the tracks that have flowed through the album, finishing the self-titled with ‘The Waiter’ is somewhat of a disappointment. The use of vocal distortion throughout the track is something that wouldn’t go amiss on The 1975’s A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships, however, it feels out of place on Bleachers’ fourth album.

Without a doubt, Bleachers having a self-titled fourth album seems fitting. This album draws on Antonoff’s personal thoughts, whether this be the death of his sister or his relationship with his wife, things big or small, on a much deeper level than has been experienced before. Throughout the self-titled album, Antonoff demonstrates the skill he has honed expertly: creating an anthem. Sonically, Bleachers have produced a colourful album with a song for every occasion, from blasting in the car with the windows down in the height of summer to dancing to at a wedding.


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