Album Review: Bleachers – “Gone Now”

Woke up, I’m in the in-between honey…

I’m not sure where to start with this album… I have a lot to say. When the album was made available on the internet early, I avoided listening to the whole thing because I was having a particularly emotional week. I have a lot of feelings attached to Bleachers’ first record, “Strange Desire,” and I knew “Gone Now” would be no different. Jack Antonoff’s music, both in fun. and Steel Train have impacted my life in a way no other musician’s has. This website’s name is even partially inspired by “The Gambler,” a song on fun.’s first album, “Aim & Ignite.” I finally decided to set aside time to listen to this album the day it was released in June, and I shut out the entire world with no distractions. Eyes closed, headphones on, just taking it all in, which I believe is the perfect way to take in these songs for a first-time listener.

The album starts with “Dream of Micky Mantle,” with a faded lyric coating the backdrop – “woke up, I’m in the in-between honey,” seemingly defining the awakening of “Gone Now.” This track seems simple from an outsider’s perspective, but diving deeper into the song provides a lot more context. “Micky Mantle left on a Sunday, and all of the neighborhood rushes home to pray.” Micky Mantle, a legendary major league baseball player on the New York Yankees, passed away on a Sunday in 1995. Antonoff notes Mantle’s passing being his first time learning of death, at the age of 11 — a theme that would be reoccurring in his life. “Dream of Micky Mantle” is followed up by “Goodmorning,” where we hear the tag from the the former track – “woke up, I’m in the in-between honey,” Antonoff croons.  Antonoff has defined this song quite perfectly – it focuses on numbness of first waking up, when you’re in the “in-between” –  not fully asleep or fully awake. The heavy weight of your world hasn’t hit you yet – “one foot out and I know the weight is coming.” The song also plays with a Beatles-esque vibe, with Jack’s vocals in one ear and the instrumental in the other, creating a soundscape unlike any of Bleachers previous material. “Hate That You Know Me” is a pretty self explanatory track with a pristine pop chorus, with vocal help from pop princesses Lorde and Carly Rae Jepsen.  “Don’t Take The Money” is another track featuring Lorde. DTTM tackles following your gut-feeling, especially in a relationship – regardless of which way the world around you is pulling you. The chorus is massive, the harmonies are completely on point, the production and layering on this track – completely impeccable. DTTM is back to back with my favorite track on the album – “Everybody Lost Somebody.” This song is opened with an infectious saxophone riff that is very present throughout the song. Antonoff experienced the loss of his sister at age 18, this loss is heard in the song and it hits, hard. The amount of heart Antonoff provides in his songs, especially this one, is unbelievable to me. “I think pain is waiting alone in the corner, trying to get myself back home yeah, looking like everybody – knowing everybody lost somebody.” No matter how hard your loss is, the whole world is experiencing this at any given time – you are not alone. I personally connect with this song more greatly than any track in Antonoff’s catalog.

Track 6 is “All My Heroes.” Antonoff says this track is about how disappointment in parts of your world can turn into motivation to be better. “when all your heroes get tired, I’ll be something better yet.” This mid-tempo anthem is followed up by “Let’s Get Married,” another song explained in the title. A very catchy, cute cut with clichés that even those who are jaded could enjoy. “Goodbye” seemingly acts as a companion to “Goodmorning.” This is followed by “I Miss Those Days,” a track that opens with bells and an acoustic guitar. The sentiment in this song is relatable on a lot of levels, how you can long for your former years, regardless of how lost you were. “Nothing Is U” is an emotional ballad, praising a lover / friend’s position in your life, in the midst of all the pain – “nothing has changed me quite like you.” The subtle percussion on this track compliments it quite nicely, with Antonoff supporting much of the song with tasteful harmonies.

The album’s closing stretch begins with “I’m Ready To Move On/Micky Mantle Reprise,” which mirrors “Strange Desire.” Antonoff views this body of work to be a way of moving on. The ending of the track is filled with a slew of sound bites, likely from Jack’s personal voicemails – he has been known to alter them and include these in his songs. The most beautiful aspect of “Gone Now” is that you truly get to step into Antonoff’s mind. “Foreign Girls,” the album closer, builds with a small distorted trumpet in one ear, with a vocal effect on Jack’s falsetto until the chorus hits. “I’ve been walking circles, lost on Sunday morning, trying to find my back home, ‘cause I know I’ve been a stranger lately.” The choir effect on this song’s chorus ties it together quite nicely. All of Antonoff’s songs are connected on this record with similar themes.

I love this album, it’s one of the best albums I’ve heard in years. Full transparency – I’ve listened to it all the way through twice a day, pretty much every day, for the past few months. It’s almost disgusting how much I love it. I saw Bleachers perform earlier this summer in Columbus and forgot about my sadness for an entire week, simply because of how happy it made me. This was more or less an analysis of the album, filled with only praise — not quite a review, so if you wanted that, I apologize. This is the longest piece I’ve ever written about music, so if you made it this far, thank you. Jack Antonoff – I want to thank you for this album. It’s been one of the only things getting me through this year. I would love to have a conversation with you someday. GONE NOW is a masterpiece. If you don’t listen to it, you’re messing up. Thank you.

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