Jack Antonoff, 33, released his second album Gone Now (2017) on Friday, June 2. Under the moniker Bleachers, Gone Now (2017) is an atypical dreamscape album that uses punchy synths, melodic beats, and a 80s-esque compass to sway listener interest into vibing along for the ride. The album is a collection of nostalgic noise and end-credit soundtracks, all of which are supported by lyrics pertaining to carefree youth and the hero’s journey toward self-discovery. Today’s pop music and radio come off as saturated and overwhelming with repetition. Antonoff makes every effort to stray away from that. He distinguishes and identifies his tracks with his own, distinct version of pop, by redefining it with his sensible narratives and musical charisma.
The first song introduces the album strangely. “Dream of Mickey Mantle” opens with playful piano, muffled drums, and faint dialogue. Model Camilla Venturini whispers “I wanna be grateful”. Antonoff takes the familiar pop structure, reminiscent of Simple Minds‘ works, and twists musical textures and random elements out of proportion. It makes for a damn good pop song, let alone an introduction for the rest of his singles.
The head-bobbing motions continue with his secondary single “Goodmorning”. The pumping ballad is apologetic lyrically yet remains upbeat and hopeful; his raspy, whiny voice mixed with the simple piano make for a relatable listening experience. It’s one of those songs where you’d want to go out, stare into the sky, and contemplate all the good and bad decisions in life. It’s a timely, bittersweet track perfect for this sort of occasion.
“Hate That You Know Me” and “Don’t Take The Money” are the tracks following, and they are in fact one of the first singles debuted prior to the release of the full album. “HTYKM” is distinct in tempo and intense in melody. With Carly Rae Jepsen, Julia Michaels, Sam Dew, and Lorde guiding the song, their vocals add to the already summery beat. Their harmonies comparatively make community choir shows look like failed audition castings. This song is unreal. “DTTM” on the other hand is another smash. This is the highlight of the album; Lorde’s crazed dance moves unleash in this anthem. Her eerie vocals in addition to the reverbed guitar and popping tempo make the song exceedingly powerful. The fusion of the minor key lyricism and jumpy major tonality is cohesive in such a way that feels liberating, unapologetic, and redeeming.
Then, everything takes a turn. For the best, of course. Here we are, back at it again with Camilla Venturini, engaging in her melancholic narration: “I gotta get myself back home soon”. Saxophones timidly crescendo, then they completely take over. A new leaf turns in the span of twenty seconds or so. “Everybody Lost Somebody” is a trip, a musical trance. The trumpets, slow-paced drums, and high notes in the bridge cast a passionate set of beats that deviate from what pop music usually is. The fifth addition is a conglomeration of Amy Winehouse‘s jazzy undertones, Childish Gambino‘s poetic nature, and WALK THE MOON‘s optimism. This song has got it all.
But that’s not to say that his songs are ripped straight out of an 80s sitcom, mixed movie plot, or artists likewise to his sound. These songs are completely his own. He does generate a familiar dialogue, with the music, lyrics, and everything in between, yet he still attains his own identity by verbally remaining separate from his previous associations with Steel Train and fun..
“All My Heroes” and “Let’s Get Married” are the sixth and seventh additions. “AMH” is slow in tempo, complex in range, and a dislocated beat that echoes a “real talk” mantra, especially in the chorus: “all the nights I don’t remember/are the ones I can’t forget/when all your heroes get tired/I’ll be something better yet”. The track screams The Temper Trap vibes. Like his previous tracks, this one in particular has a quality that oozes redemption and collateral strength in the belief that it’s possible to move on. “Let’s Get Married” is somewhat of a switch. Instead of self-loathing and the need to prove oneself, the seventh single isn’t so insecure. It’s a lot like COIN and their joyful/not-so-joyful nature. Lyrically, the song takes a serious concept, the idea of marriage, and concludes a live-in-the-moment philosophy with a carefree beat. Essentially, the song disregards all options and asserts a “f–k it” sort of attitude.
Following “Let’s Get Married”, the eighth song “Goodbye” takes no breaks. It slows down the listening journey a bit; the boyband vocals make the song outlandish and rather unamusing compared to the other songs already heard. Sure, his voice is cool when autotuned, but overall, the single lacks innovation and deviance; he recycles lyrics from “Goodmorning” and “Everybody Lost Somebody”, attains a beat replicable in Garageband, and lacks overall creativity. “Goodbye” is the safety school of songs.
Gone Now (2017) and its second half of tracks perform like an earthquake sequence: “Don’t Take The Money” was at the epicenter of the album, and aftershocks of songs following begin to linger. Tracks like “I Miss Those Days” and “Nothing Is U” are great at the surface, but come off as secondary in comparison to the first half of the album.
“I Miss Those Days”, the ninth song, is somewhat redeeming after “Goodbye” and its afterthought ambiance. It’s atmospheric, and its mix of rock, jazz, and soul drive home how the rest of the album is. The saxophones and jazzy influence resurface, and presents a nostalgic, end-credits kind of tune that’s catchy, but nothing too special. At this point, Antonoff has played all his hands, and is slowly boring a hyped up listening pool. But maybe that’s what the album needs. Maybe it needs this sort of ending.
“Nothing Is U” is the slowest track. The ringing vocals, piano chords, and sad-boi melody come off as sappy and romantic. Though it’s not the most exciting, it still carries weight with meaningful verses: “since nothing has changed me quite like you/no nothing has changed me quite like you”.
The eleventh song “I’m Ready To Move On/Mickey Mantle Reprise” is the most enjoyable track of the second half. Like Beyoncé’s Lemonade (2016), “All Night” was the eleventh song, and made that album complete fire. Antonoff channels the same success that “All Night” redeemed in Lemonade (2016), telepathically or not. It is so, so epic. It revels in a mixture of jazz and acoustic folk, which surprisingly builds off one another. If this song were an end-credit scene, it would be Judd Nelson fisting the air in The Breakfast Club (1985), or Logan Lerman with arms outstretched in a moving truck, driving into the night, in The Perks Of Being A Wallflower (2012). The “Mickey Mantle Reprise” brings closure to the album the same way movie soundtracks do. It’s a cliffhanger of a song: freeing, uplifting, and resilient.
The twelve and final track is “Foreign Girls”. It finishes up the album with trumpet, autotune, and genuine lyricism: essentially, all the tricks that Antonoff has appeared to be good at. Though he relapses with “Goodbye” lyrics, he sends off the album in the most honest way, by hatting off all of those involved: “goodbye to the things we bought/you should know that/I loved you all”.
Consensus: complex, intriguing, self-identifying, at points a bore, but overall is great and has no chill for a pop album.
Rating: 7/10, would recommend.
Feature Photo By (Bleachers/Official Website).