If Jack Antonoff’s first Bleachers album, Strange Desire, was an aggressive yet melodic cry for help, then his sophomore follow-up, Gone Now, is the cathartic realization that he can finally move on. The album’s title itself could serve as a self-declaration that he is finally able to face the fact that his sister is no longer with him.
Dealing with some similar themes from Strange Desire, the latest Bleachers release continues to touch on Antonoff’s heartache due to losing his sister just as he reached adulthood. However, instead of focusing on this loss, Antonoff chooses to showcase how he is moving past this tragedy and continuing to live a complete life despite the absence of someone so dear.
Characterized by the same perfect mix between alternative and pop, this sophomore album is a natural extension of the first. The introductions spoken in some of Gone Now‘s songs are a familiar element that listeners of Strange Desire will recognize. Seemingly random, they not only connect the songs in each album but the albums to each other as well.
Some subtle differences between the two albums are a decrease in 80’s influence and a much lighter overall tone. This shift in the moods of each album is partly to do with the lack of distortion that Gone Now displays in comparison to its predecessor. Rather than wanting to jump with angst-filled fists in the air, you’re filled with an explosive joy. It’s easy to listen to Gone Now and break out in those embarrassing dance moves usually reserved for just the privacy of your mirror.
Throughout the album, the listener is privileged enough to journey with Antonoff as he finally leaves his childhood home and begins focusing more on the relationships that he does have now. “Hate That You Know Me So Well” featuring Carly Rae Jepsen (who he reveals on Twitter as “the first before anyone gave a shit about me”), is the perfect pop song to showcase how he has forged new relationships since his sister’s death. As we continue down this course with Antonoff, we share in his pain as he lingers in the foggy mentality between moving on and being held back by his past. In “I Miss Those Days” the track’s feature of a saxophone brings us back to a more nostalgic time. Coupled with a more staccato beat, we can sense Antonoff’s struggle to continue fighting forward. Finally, in the album’s second to last song (another similar trait from Strange Desire) Antonoff successfully achieves that balance. In “I’m Ready To Move On/Mickey Mantle Reprise” a delicate mix of the brassy nostalgia that is familiar from tracks like “I Miss Those Days” is coupled with a new age feel that the album has possessed in its entirety. Antonoff declares his freedom from being tied down and is finally able to say goodbye to those strings like his old neighbors and even his childhood bedroom.
Other track highlights include “Don’t Take The Money” and “Nothing is U”. Jack Antonoff’s choice to make DTTM the album’s first single was a brilliant one. It is a perfect example of how he refuses to fight for what he believes in, never taking the easy way out of a compromising situation. It is also an incredibly honest track. With lyrics like “roll your eyes, shave my head” and “I cut off my t-shirt sleeves,” it’s easy to remember when he really was rocking those looks. The song is an amazing reminder of how intimate Jack allows himself to be with his fans, making us feel that much more valued.
“Nothing is U” is also filled with lyrical gems. With references to thunder in this song and throughout the album, the crashing noise plays a beautiful symbol of harsh realizations that he must encounter. The song also paints a story of his struggle with anxiety and OCD. It brings to mind an eye opening and transparent interview with Spin Magazine where he admits that his OCD is a “funny thing”, but that’s what makes it a battle.
Gone Now has sealed my admiration and love for Bleachers. When a favorite band or artist comes out with a new album, it’s always a bit nerve-wracking to hear what new direction they may have taken in their music. Fortunately, Jack Antonoff has smoothly strode into a smooth extension of what Bleachers already is: a. beautiful trek of constantly pushing forward, past all of life’s trials.