Bleachers | Strange Desire | Rating: 9.5/11 |
If there’s one topic Jack Antonoff knows how to write about it’s lost love, but the heartbroken-my-life-is-upside-down kind that leaves you devastated and unable to move on; not confined to the romantic side of love. In his break-out debut album, Strange Desire, for his solo project (a.k.a. Bleachers) Jack tackles the full healing heart story from heartbreak to the agonizing over analysis phase to the healed moment you’re ready to move on.
Watching Jack evolve from Steel Train’s songwriter/guitar player in the background to full front man was quite the journey 10 years ago. Then after a couple of years of Steel Train touring with The Format Jack partnered up with Nate Ruess (and Andrew Dost) to form fun. which placed incredible opportunities for the budding musician at his feet. But there’s a big difference between being one voice in a band with equal share and finally unleashing your own creative endeavor. Both Steel Train and fun. introduced the world to what Jack Antonoff was capable of. Now Jack gets to come into his own with Bleachers.
Strange Desire is much more than another love story, it’s a therapeutic release of creative energy that’s been searching for a place, a home for quite some time. The album has two distinct feels – a very modern touch inspired by the 1980s – that can be easily accredited to producer John Hill (MIA, Empire of the Sun) and Vince Clarke (Depeche Mode, Erasure). John bringing in the modern approaches and Vince keeping the nostalgic feel. You can especially hear this in “Like A River Runs” that could’ve been unreleased U2 track (Joshua Tree-era) before kicking into its own EDM-style remix.
“Wild Heart” starts Strange Desire off with a powerful and commanding energy as it just busts right in. There’s a slight Tom Waits-vibe at the end of “Reckless Love” and a message of gratitude that starts and ends the album (you might need to turn up the volume to hear it). Other highlights include “I Wanna Get Better” and it’s lyrically-powerful (and relatable) message, the guitar solo halfway through “Who I Want You To Love” followed by a Beatles’ style bass line and strings arrangement which is quite sonically beautiful and Steel Train fans might feel a familiar connection to “Shadow.”
If Jack Antonoff has been trying to capture his full-scale of emotion that inspired the 11 tracks on this album (and countless Steel Train songs), he’s finally done it. Strange Desire is almost a full concept album from start to finish; it tells a story. And, well Jack, you’ve not only preserved that story now but done it justice. Mazel tov!