Act of Self
Bleachers mastermind Jack Antonoff is most definitely going through some shit. It’s the type of shit that’s influenced by not one particular event, but an amalgamation of things that have helped shape his identity and hone his songwriting. It’s part of what makes him a versatile lyricist with vocal finesse to match.
On Bleachers’ first studio album, Antonoff waxes poetic on his internal workings by interspersing bits of high school angst and poppy relatability to keep the record moving at a decent pace. An array of influences are at work and, given his involvement with fun. and myriad songwriting contributions to the pop world, it comes as no surprise that Bleachers generally plays it safe on most tracks.
That’s not to say that Bleachers is a boring artist. The opening track “Wild Heart” starts off precocious with an almost Vampire Weekend vibe before launching into the type of hooking harmonies and expansive bent that has set indie music on the course of maximalism since Arcade Fire’s The Suburbs. Chanting, yearning vocals aren’t your thing? Wait until the next song. “Rollercoaster” brings it back to the ’80s. “So come a little closer / There was something I could tell ya / You were such a roller coaster / And a killer queen you are.” The song layers Antonoff’s vocals in a more pop punk style you’d expect from an entirely different album.
Key track “I Wanna Get Better” is essentially Bleachers’ mission statement and also one of the most revelatory tracks. While many point to its breezy delivery as a relative rival of fun.’s mega-hit “We Are Young”, there’s just something lacking in the oversampled chorus that opens the song to a vacuum of many, many pop songs that have come before.
There are still key elements at play throughout this incredibly quick LP. Dashes of synths, layers of vocals and dance beats are in abundance. Though Antonoff is a guitarist in business, his pleasure seems to lie in the intricate patchwork of a Moog synthesizer. Antonoff has indulged in his musical desires with Bleachers and, for better or worse, that’s exactly what it sounds like.