Mon. Apr 22nd, 2024

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Album Review: Bleachers – Bleachers

3 min read

I’m going to start this review with an admission – I love the Bleachers.  I’ve seen them live twice and will be going again when their tour hits the UK.  When the list came out on the renownedforsound.com reviewers’ portal, I put my name down to cover Bleachers faster than a Cheetah on amphetamines.  The self-titled album, released through Dirty Hit, is an exploration of love, loss, grief, joy, youthfulness and maturity, based on Jack Antonoff’s thoughts and experiences over the last years.

Getting right into it, it’s clear from the first bars of I Am Right on Time that one of Antonoff’s big influences is Bruce Springsteen (and the E Street Band), and this influence weaves through the whole album, mostly subtly, sometimes like a slap across the face.  As for the song itself, it feels like it’s about to really pop, but doesn’t actually do so.  Very much a temptress of a track, and is followed by their first single release, Modern Girl, which feels like an ode to the E Street, as a ‘swingalong’ (very much a typo of ‘singalong’ I made in my notes, but this actually works better as a descriptive) kind of track.  Jesus Is Dead has an old school, Death Cab for Cutie or Weezer feel, but unlike track one there is a crescendo, with sax & band all going off at the end – very satisfying!!

Latest single release Me Before You gives off some familiar vibes with the tone of organ, giving off a little Philadelphia (there’s Springsteen again) or Coldplay’s Fix You in the undertone, with an almost small-club jazz drum slip beat – it’s another track where you are waiting for there to be a kick, but are somewhat left with musical blue balls, and the low-key, down-tempo continues through to Alma Mater where Lana Del Rey adds her silky tones to a track which picks up tempo towards to the end in what it a real grower.  Tiny Moves up next – a quintessential ‘Bleachers’ track – up-tempo, full of energy and a sing-a-long, shout-a-long chorus… I can see this being a high point of upcoming gigs.  Contrast to the excellence of that track is the ensuing Isimo which is broadly forgettable, and Woke Up Today – a solid tune which has a hint of a later-day McCartney Beatles tune about it.

The appearance of Florence Welch was an unexpected surprise in Self Respect, which was a fantastic track with wisps of electro in its undertone and had a touch of The National about it… which is no bad thing, and is followed by Hey Joe, which ends with a nice low-key beat and some swift (hint-hint) backing vocals, rumoured to be someone rather famous. A laid back electro feel to Call Me After Midnight which has excellent lyrics, and somewhat of a unique fit to the album, though it does really work, is followed by stripped-back acoustic slow number We Are Going to Know Each Other Forever is fine but not remarkable, which, in turn, is overshadowed by Ordinary Heaven, which is a superior track in every sense of the word.  The self-titled offering is rounded off with the The Waiter, which is a great advert for how when and how much you should use auto-tune on an album, the organ and horns making it feels quite sermon-like at the culmination of events.

I find myself re-writing the round up to this review.  It’s not an album full of home runs like Rollercoaster or I Wanna Get Better… of course it isn’t, no album is!!  It does, however, contain one or two tracks that could be at that kind of level, and then a lot of good tracks that are obviously influenced by whatever Antonoff is listening to or producing at that time (I considerably held back from saying things like “this has a beat like X and chords like Y in the style of Z” far more than I actually did).  This is not to say Bleachers is devoid of originality – far from it!  The music is unmistakably Bleachers, and I, for one, am looking forward to hearing them incorporate some of these tracks in their upcoming tour.