Bleachers, Gone Now | Album Review
80s loving, alternative pop band Bleachers (Jack Antonoff) returns with its highly anticipated, incredibly intriguing sophomore effort, ‘Gone Now.’
Following a successful debut album in 2014 (Strange Desire), Bleachers – aka Jack Antonoff – returns with his highly-anticipated sophomore album, Gone Now. Ahead of Gone Now, four singles gave the listener a preview of the sound vibe of the effort. Expectedly, the Gone Now is full of ambition, creative, and huge, dynamic moments. It’s imperfect, but it’s pros far outweigh its cons.
“Dream of Mickey Mantle”
On “Dream of Mickey Mantle,” Antonoff references Mickey Mantle. Okay, what? During the chorus, the death of the legendary baseball player is mentioned, rather implied.
“Rolling thunder had cursed my bedroom / Heard from your mother, she don’t recognize you / Now Mickey Mantle left on a Sunday / And all the neighborhood rushes home to play.”
“Dream of Mickey Mantle” is also interesting in a number of other regards. Antonoff cites two additional songs from Gone Now in a particular lyric – “I Miss Those Days” and “Don’t Take the Money.” He sings: “I miss those days so I sing a don’t take the money song.” If nothing else, it kicks off the effort with an alternative bang.
“Goodmorning” shares a connection with “Dream of Mickey Mantle” lyrically.
“Woke up, I’m in the in-between honey / One foot out and I know the weight is coming.”
In regards to its production and sound, it’s a stellar track, thanks particularly to the gospel-tinged piano. Lyrically and thematically, “Goodmorning” is tough to follow. The lyrics have some poetic qualities, but deciphering them suitably is arduous. Listening to it, the music is what the listener is most apt to latch onto. Although quirky and off-putting, it’s unique.
“Hate That You Know Me”
From the jump, “Hate That You Know Me” has hit written all over it. On the verses, Antonoff builds the case against things he dislikes about himself. He seems to be lying to others, and arguably, even to himself. His lover, however, can read between all the BS.
“Oo-oo-ooh / Long way down / You’re such a heart attack / But it feels like oo-oo-ooh / Pressure points / They pressure you right back / Come on, think about it.”
An uncredited Carly Rae Jepsen gives Antonoff a brilliant assist, even though she’s not prominently featured. Ultimately, he outdoes himself here.
Throughout the course of highlight “Don’t Take the Money,” Antonoff depicts elements of his relationship. Some parts of the relationships are good, while others aren’t. According to him, “don’t take the money” is a phrase he says to himself regarding a gut feeling. On the first verse, Antonoff takes issue with love.
“Somebody broke me once / Love was a currency / A shimmering balance act / I think that I laughed at that.”
Similarly, on the second verse, Antonoff continues to describe the plight of love. In the context of the chorus, he embraces the push and pull of love.
“You steal the air out of my lungs, you make me feel it / I pray for everything we lost, buy back the secrets / Your hand forever’s all I want / Don’t take the money / Don’t take the money.”
On the bridge, he gives advice about facing similar situations and decisions regarding love. Ultimately, a winner.
“Everybody Lost Somebody”
“Everybody Lost Somebody” opens mysteriously, with an interlude, coupled with excerpts of the production work, muted in the background. This foreshadows what’s to come – a beat that hits you right in the chest, jazzy, soulful saxophones, and of course, synth action. Expectedly, it’s another production showcase for Antonoff. Vocally, the performance is uneven, yet incredibly playful, incorporating both spoken and sung portions. All said and done, it’s another compelling piece.
The verses on “All My Heroes” are characterized by vocal subtlety. Jack Antonoff sings in an undertone, ascending to a louder dynamic level on the chorus. As always, the production shines the brightest here. The lyrics are interesting, but given the undertone approach on the verses coupled with the sound palette, it’s easier to appreciate what’s happening instrumentally.
The enthusiastic “Let’s Get Married” plays like a legit 80s record through and through. Yes, Gone Now is fueled by 80s cues, but “Let’s Get Married” screams Prince. While it’s more predictable compared to the more intriguing, sometimes challenging numbers, it’s successful without a doubt. “Goodbye” is one of many experiments that’ll appeal to some and confound others. It works best as a prelude to what arrives next.
“I Miss Those Days”
“I Miss Those Days” reminisces on the fun, more adventurous times of the past. Antonoff kicks off the record addressing the topic of getting older. The record features a bright, energetic sound, particularly on the chorus sections. The production is quite boisterous, particularly the signature Bleachers drums, which hit you right in the chest. Furthermore, the enthusiasm of Jack Antonoff is a pro – his authenticity and investment are indisputable.
Some of Bleacher’s Antonoff-ness proves to be too much Antonoff. “Nothing Is U” is a brief, but a sincere ballad.
“And I can’t be alone anymore / Since nothing has changed me quite like you / No, nothing has changed me quite like you.”
Towards the end, “Nothing is U” grows louder, featuring more oomph. Still, even given the sincerity and bombast, it isn’t particularly moving. “I’m Ready to Move On / Mickey Mantle Reprise” is wild. It’s unique, but definitely somewhere out there. The same can be said of closer “Foreign Girls.” Maybe it’s the vocals and the variety of effects, or maybe at this point, it’s more than enough Bleachers. Still, the chorus on “Foreign Girls” is a bright spot, not to mention the robust bass line.
Ultimately, Gone Now is a solid sophomore effort from Bleachers. Throughout its course, Jack Antonoff offers incredible ambition, offering a different sound than much of the music heard on the radio today. At times his ambition (and production) get the best of him, but more often than not, Gone Now is successful. This isn’t the album of the year – particularly lyrically – but Bleachers offers a worthwhile alternative pop album through and through.
Gems: “Hate That You Know Me,” “Don’t Take the Money,” “Everybody Lost Somebody,” “I Miss Those Days”
Bleachers • Gone Now • RCA • Release: 6.2.17
Photo Credit: RCA