What do you get when you mix the appearance of a young Rick Moranis and the voice of the lead singer from Simple Minds? Spoiler alert, you get Jack Antonoff, the frontman of the indie pop band Bleachers. After discovering them this year (through a tweet from Paramore’s Hayley Williams), I have been hooked.
Their June 2017 release of the album Gone Now has become a fixation on the ‘recently played’ section of my Spotify account. It is a uniquely crafted piece of art that I have never had a chance to fully review until I understood it better. Let’s dive in.
The album begins with a quiet buildup during the opening song, Dream of Mickey Mantle. The song is a fusion of the album as a whole by incorporating pieces of each song throughout it’s 3 minute, 10 second run. With lyrics like “rolling thunder, had cursed my bedroom” and “woke up I’m in the in-between honey”, you get a feel for what this album is going to be like: a loose story that flows through the entire album.
Goodmorning, as the title states, greets the morning sun. Set in the time before you’re fully awake but after your eyes open, it’s a nice transition from the opener. I especially love the rough quality of the word “STOP” in the chorus to signify feet finally hitting the floor to start the day.
The first Bleachers song I heard from this album was Hate That You Know Me. It’s an upbeat pop ballad with Carly Rae Jepsen of Call Me Maybe fame dropping in for backing vocals. It’s the most radio-friendly song, but still stands as one of my favorite songs here.
Don’t Take the Money moves forward as an unconventional love song that encourages listeners to not sell out. It’s one of the most lyrically strong songs on the album and a killer track to hear in person. Lorde also comes in to deliver uncredited backing vocals that make for one of the most unique pop songs of 2017.
What’s a thread that we all share as a human race? We’ve all experienced loss. Everybody Lost Somebody comes in with strong jazz influences and sections filled with actual street noise to paint a picture of someone seeking common ground with any other stranger on the street. All My Heroes serves an unintended follow-up to the 2014 single I Wanna Get Better. With great lyrics like “I’ll be something better yet”, it encourages us to grow as people into those heroes that we have looked up to, so that maybe we can be a hero to someone else.
I love Let’s Get Married. It presents itself as a typical love song but after hearing Jack’s full spill of what it’s written about, it is definitely not a love song as much as a throbbing worry in your gut. Written immediately after the 2016 election, the song is about panic. A panic that causes you to want to bunker down with your loved ones and never leave home.
Goodbye signals the beginning of the end for the narrator and the album. It’s an odd sequel to Goodmorning that has sees Jack bidding farewell to all the things he greeted in the previous songs. I Miss Those Days is the album’s second single that shows someone who is not ready to grow up. The narrator pines for the days where the weight of the world was off of their shoulders despite having no direction for their life back then. It’s a relatable track for anyone who feels like they may have overlooked their own glory days.
Nothing Is U is the album’s only straight up love song. It’s a letter delivered to the desk of the person who you love, who loves you back despite the afflictions you see in your life. The penultimate song is I’m Ready to Move On / Mickey Mantle (Reprise). It has great horns that signal the time for the narrator to finish their hike to Heaven’s gates, if you see this entire thing as one life cycle.
Hands down, my favorite song of the year is the closer: Foreign Girls. It’s from the perspective of someone who is ‘gone now’, perhaps a ghost? As the narrator’s day comes to a close, the chorus shows someone who is lost, but trying to get home, and concludes the album with a soft, fatal quality that leaves the listener with a tear in their eye as the narrator finally finds their way home.
The bigger concept of this album didn’t hit me until recently so I’m glad I waited this long to talk about it in detail. It’s a life cycle, a complete cohesive story that begins at the start of the day and closes with ascendance to the afterlife. I’m grateful to have seen Bleachers perform most of these songs live, and I hope one day to see them again. For now, I’ll keep listening to this 10/10 and see what else lies beneath the symphony of notes and verses that Jack has created for us.
(I own no photos)