Bleachers
Bleachers


1.5
very poor

Review

by Dakota West Foss STAFF
March 8th, 2024 | 34 replies


Release Date: 03/08/2024 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Bleachers lose the plot.

One of the bigger headlines for the year so far has been about plagiarism in the online content creation sphere. The less you know about the particulars, the better, but it’s nonetheless a conversation that is necessary as not only online tools because more readily available, but artificial ones as well. The advent of Tik Tok and even shorter forms of media have taken the already fractured and stratified decay of our monoculture to extremes, as people debate the merits of Clean Goth aesthetics being a thing, when it’s really just owning a black Stanley cup and listening to The Cure. While the endless debates and discourse only continue to get louder and more recursive, the blueprint was more or less drawn up a few years back when Greta Van Fleet arrived out of nowhere to insist that they somehow accidentally tripped and fell and totally accidentally wrote Led Zeppelin IV. Hell, they actually were inspired by Rush. Total coincidence. That didn’t stop the band from garnering a fanbase that was all too eager to comment “it’s nice to see kids are still making REAL music” on YouTube rips, because more of the same is good enough for some folks, artistic ambition be damned. Would it have made a difference if Robert Plant gave them the thumb’s up in his old age?

That push-pull question of copy-tribute has curiously become the conundrum around Jack Antonoff’s Bleachers project. What began as shockingly resonant pop-rock that managed to marry a rock pastiche of yesteryear with the washed out Tumblr aesthetic of the second Obama administration has become little more than that Chris Farley SNL sketch wherein he asks Paul McCartney if he remembers a bunch of the most famous events of his storied career, reinforcing them with a “that’s awesome.” Instead of Paul, it is Bruce Springsteen who is the object of his affection. On 2021’s Take the Sadness Out of Saturday Night, the question was Bruce’s The River; on Bleachers, …it’s still The River, but with a splattering of Tunnel of Love. The former Bleachers album, while still cloaked in shadows of the past, still skirted by thanks to an infectious energy that may have stemmed from The Boss himself stopping by for an appearance. You could practically hear the jubilation of Jack thumbing through his rolodex to call him up, along with other names like Annie Clark, Lana Del Rey, and The Chicks -the little guy from Jersey finally made it!

Bleachers, then, is once more, without feeling. The tempos are slower and the self-mythologizing is louder. This is the self-titled, you see, and only serious, grand-sweeping statements will do: “I think it was the day that Kobe fell from the sky/Or the day that Kendall Pepsi-smiled,” Jack wonders aloud on “Self Respect” to absolutely no one. He hopes against hope to become a bright and shining star like a teen in a made-for-Netflix movie to “make it Bleachers” in “Jesus is Dead". Elsewhere, he baits a popsicle stick joke with “Bodycam, only flams/Bleachers band, only flams” on one of the album’s only highlights, “Modern Girl”. To wit, he continues the YA protagonist yearning with, “I guess I’m New Jersey’s finest New Yorker.” You would never know that Lana Del Rey dropped a career-defining album last year when she stops by to duet a tired Balenciaga reference on “Alma Mater.” There’s a few callouts -by name too!- for his bandmates to work in tandem with his “aw, shucks” Jersey Boy schtick just in case you were worried that Jack didn’t understand the assignment.

Mind you, Bleachers is rarely bad in a functional sense. Despite the lack of personality, it is shined to a sheen and can occasionally eek out a gesture at why this aping would’ve been so compelling to conduct in the first place. The aforementioned “Modern Girl” is about as close to, ugh, Old Bleachers as we’re gonna get and “Tiny Moves” at least does an admirable job of getting that E Street Band swing. While it may not turn Jack into The Boss, it can at least make him The Interim Supervisor. Hell, “Call Me After Midnight” is a bit of a left turn delight with its delicate, water level synths that turns a discarded Brockhampton demo into one of the more enjoyable The 1975 songs.

It’s in the word salad of name-dropping necessary to truly comprehend the current state of Bleachers that we arrive at the heart of the problem. A self-titled album is usually meant to be a statement that most accurately reflects the mission statement of a band. The circle is a lot easier to square when it’s a band’s debut and every inch is a new pioneer; four albums in and it better be a damn good clarification. Sadly, Bleachers ends up being all the worst fears of Jack’s career path made manifest, as any semblance of uniqueness is sanded down in favor of Christmas Special-quality cameos to remind you just how strong his LinkedIn profile has grown. Ella endorsed him for clapping; Taylor for referencing love as a wire. When he sang “I wanna get better” ten years ago on the heels of fun.’s imperialistic grip on the pop landscape, I was captivated as to what that could mean and who he could be. A decade later on his band’s titular project, Jack makes it clear that he just wants to be Austin Butler playing Bruce Springsteen.



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user ratings (26)
2.5
average


Comments:Add a Comment 
Odal
Staff Reviewer
March 8th 2024


2095 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

I had to listen to this thing seven times because I kept forgetting what it sounded like. A really disappointing transformation for what was once a really promising project. Jack is the tiniest sliver of butter spread thin across the world's biggest slice of bread and that shows as Bleachers is fully put on the creative backburner

Sunnyvale
Staff Reviewer
March 8th 2024


5911 Comments

Album Rating: 2.7

Nice read and congrats on the promotion!



I did catch a typo in the second paragraph "ablum" instead of "album".



Gave this a first listen this morning and actually thought it might be the best Bleachers record since the debut (admittedly faint praise). I do think the pop-rock meets Springsteen sound works well here, although it loses steam towards the end of the tracklist.

Odal
Staff Reviewer
March 8th 2024


2095 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

Thanks! And thanks for pointing that out, tried making a last minute addition in the sput text and that's what I get lol



I think this album is better the less you've encountered Jack's music before. It really is totally functional on its own, but it completely falls apart when you hold it up to all of its references and other work. It's also, as you pointed out, simply too damn long.

Sunnyvale
Staff Reviewer
March 8th 2024


5911 Comments

Album Rating: 2.7

We'll see how I feel with a little more time with this. I've been familiar with Bleachers throughout their discog, although wouldn't call myself a big fan (I do think the debut is great if inconsistent). And I love Bruce.

Sowing
Moderator
March 9th 2024


43957 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Congrats on the promotion, first and foremost. It was very well deserved.



I've been a Bleachers fan since the debut 10 years ago, and an Antonoff fan since he was a part of Fun., and I can say that he's become a much better producer than musician. Every album since Strange Desire has been a step down, and this is the farthest he's been from that initial peak/promise. This is definitely disappointing.

Koris
Staff Reviewer
March 9th 2024


21170 Comments


"One of the bigger headlines for the year so far has been about plagiarism in the online content creation sphere."

*Hbomberguy intensifies*

Great review! Can't say I've ever been a big fan of Bleachers, even as someone who respects Jack Antonoff a lot. But maybe I'll still check this out of morbid curiosity, lol

JWT155
March 9th 2024


14957 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

All of the singles have given me the same overarching feeling.



I loved Strange Desire and Gone Now, Last one not so much, feel like he wanted to become the next Springsteen instead of just writing catchy alt pop songs, much of the vibe I adored from the first two records seem completely gone now.



Oh well, gonna give this a spin and see what I think.

Romulus
March 9th 2024


9109 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

great review! probably landing more harsh on this than i will, but antonoff has become an easy (and deserved) target

Sowing
Moderator
March 9th 2024


43957 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

I lowered my rating for this after listening to it again. It all just sounds so hollow. I'm all for stripping things down production-wise, but there's virtually no hooks and the content/lyricism is uniformly awful. I might never return to this.

Sowing
Moderator
March 9th 2024


43957 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Ooh, and all the modern girls

Shakin' their ass tonight

Ooh, and all the modern boys

Are goin' out tonight




Fucking hell

Zeiu
March 9th 2024


303 Comments


Unlistenable, why do people talk shit for attention then release boring music

Odal
Staff Reviewer
March 9th 2024


2095 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

Thanks so much, everyone!



Sowing, that was more or less my experience. I was initially just somewhat let down and bored but with each successive listen I soured more on the premise and the execution. And that was before I combed over the lyrics, which parade around all sorts of Worst Line of the Year contenders

HelloJoe
March 9th 2024


1097 Comments


I've only listened to this album once. First impressions were that it was pleasant and enjoyable, but I really would like to give it more of a listen. I liked the singles.

I recall some songs on this just sort of floating by...

As a side, I don't think Bleachers have ever really topped the best of Steel Train or fun. for me. Not that their influences or styles are too similar...

Sowing
Moderator
March 9th 2024


43957 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Fun was my favorite, then Bleachers. I'm familiar with Steel Train but haven't listened to too much of their stuff.

HelloJoe
March 9th 2024


1097 Comments


Steel Train's self titled album (also their final album) is a good listen. https://youtu.be/huVuWnLi8Yc?si=c7GKpEtavAeQahPr

Even as far as contemporary 80s pastiche bands, I personally like The 1975 more. That said, there's usually a number of songs on each Bleachers album I like. 'Tiny Moves' is good. I like the music video, too.

JWT155
March 9th 2024


14957 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Album simply lacks the hooks that were jacks signature in the band.

Slex
March 9th 2024


16610 Comments


I bet this sucks so fucking bad lol

newsteamchannel4
March 9th 2024


120 Comments


you killed this

MeatSalad
March 9th 2024


18602 Comments


Beecher > for sure

JWT155
March 9th 2024


14957 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Giant snorefest



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