This is Music Mondays, a weekly music column. This week, it’s a new album review!
Bleachers, “Gone Now” Review
Jack Antonoff does not need fun. anymore.
Jack is the guitarist for the band made famous by songs like “Some Nights” and “We Are Young”. After the band went on hiatus to pursue other projects in 2014, fans of the band like myself eagerly waited for the band’s return.
“Gone Now”, the second album from Jack’s solo project Bleachers, proves that he is an entertaining and confident frontman. Not only this, but if I never heard a fun. record again, so that I could have a new Bleachers album every few years, I would be happy.
“Gone Now” is full of fun indie pop, garnished with ‘80s influences, piano-led tunes, and stylish trumpet and saxophone features.
It contains some great songwriting (which is to be expected from the man who has written for Taylor Swift and Lorde), and is more well-rounded and confident than the band’s first record, “Strange Desire”. While it may lack a powerhouse single similar to the fantastic “I Wanna Get Better”, this makes the album seem more balanced, as much of “Strange Desire” was completely outshone by its big single.
Nonetheless, “Gone Now” still has some great singles, perfect for singing at the top of your lungs. “Everybody Lost Somebody”, with its lively saxophone, and “I Miss Those Days”, with its piano and trumpets, are my favorite tracks on “Gone Now”. “Let’s Get Married” is the brightest moment on “Gone Now”, and while some critics find it (and other songs) too sickeningly sweet, I respectfully disagree.
Much of the album sounds like it could double as a soundtrack to a John Hughes movie, with “Don’t Take the Money” being the best example, which adds to its ‘80s aesthetic.
The album doesn’t completely follow the ‘80s rulebook though. Jack exhibits some Beatles influences on the song “I’m Ready to Move On”. He often distorts his vocals, and songs like “Hate That You Know Me” use more modern synths and instrumentation.
The album is quirky and full of personality. Lyrics like “That’s why I’m out in the street tonight, whistling wind out my teeth ‘cause somebody didn’t fix them nice. You know some things just don’t turn out right” (on the opening track “Dream of Mickey Mantle”) are funny while still feeling personal. Jack’s vocals burst with character on tracks like “Goodmorning” where he practically shrieks the line “Good morning to my upstairs neighbor”. I love it.
The album deals with the effects of becoming famous, which again, feels personal to Jack. “Goodmorning” and “Goodbye” act as dual tracks, where he is first saying “hello” to the people he knows, while Jack is later giving them a final “thank you”. The fantastic closer “Foreign Girls” (which, at times, sound like a Donnie Trumpet track) has Jack exclaiming “I’ve been a stranger lately”. These themes of fame are slightly melancholic, as he is saying goodbye to a part of his life and they are “Gone Now”, but it provides a great through-line for the album and makes it feel much more cohesive.
My one big complaint for “Gone Now” is the inclusion of the songs “All My Heroes” and “Nothing is U”. They certainly aren’t bad, but their slower pace and subdued vocals throw off the album’s pacing. While Jack may have been trying to include some ballads with these songs, they never achieve enough momentum or emotion to do so.
Despite this critique, I am in love with “Gone Now”. Jack Antonoff has truly come into his own as an artist on this record, and it establishes a more balanced and interesting sound for his solo project. Jack’s lively vocals and the piano, synth, trumpets, and saxophones on display add character to the record, and its ‘80s sound stands out among the crowded indie pop genre.
Songs like “Everybody Lost Somebody”, “I Miss Those Days”, and “Foreign Girls” are personal favorites, but they don’t overshadow the other great songs. Jack’s songwriting is quirky, often emotional, and provides great consistent subject matter on fame.
“Gone Now” is a great record. It’s fun, catchy, and remains compelling through its track list. Without a doubt, I recommend checking it out.