As a producer, Jack Antonoff has the Midas touch. He’s helped craft massive hits for Taylor Swift, Lana Del Rey, Lorde, St. Vincent, The Chicks and others. As the leader of his own band Bleachers, however, he doesn’t hit them out of the park quite as consistently. Perhaps it’s because he’s less concerned with chasing sales and chart placements as he is in pursuing his own restlessly creative urges.
On the band’s third album, that path leads straight back to his native New Jersey — also the home of one Bruce Springsteen, supposedly one of Antonoff’s influences. The Boss‘s shadow looms large on these songs, from the romantic lyrics, honking sax and wide-eyed enthusiasm to the slapback echo that washes over most of the tracks. Hell, Springsteen himself drops in to sing backup on one track and give the album his seal of approval. The point? Well, presumably all Antonoff’s unabashed hero worship is meant as a compliment — the sincerest form of flattery, if you will. And sure, a few of the songs do a fairly decent job of channelling the same vibe and energy of Bruce’s earlier, more freewheeling albums. But ultimately, Antonoff is no Springsteen. Nobody is. So what you end up with is an album that sounds like a pale imitation rather than the real deal. From a guy with the Midas touch, this feels more like fool’s gold.
THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Bleachers’ third album Take The Sadness Out of Saturday Night is the followup to their critically acclaimed 2017 sophomore album Gone Now. Five-time Grammy-winning singer, songwriter, musician, and producer Jack Antonoff is the creative force behind Bleachers.
The album was preceded by several singles, including Stop Making This Hurt and How Dare You Want More. Of the former, Antonoff says: ”Stop Making This Hurt is what you get when we are not allowed to go play for our people. it’s a line that had been ringing in my head for years. I fell into a dark place after a loss and then starting to have that feeling of rage towards the depression — which is when you know there’s a way out. Started looking at the people close to me in my life and finding all the ways we keep ourselves from breaking through. Stop Making This Hurt started ringing more and more in my head. Then the pandemic hit and I got the band in a room and we played like we may never play again. At that point it took on another meaning. Found myself banging at the door of the next phase of my life and to open brings up all the darkness from the past and what’s holding you back. I could intellectualize it for days but what im truly left with is a voice in my head shouting Stop Making This Hurt.”
On How Dare You Want More, Antonoff says: “Over the past few years I found out things about my family that challenged some of the myths of our structure. I’ve felt rage, fear, darkness etc around it, but at the end of the day what I am left with is that everybody wants a little more and going out there and trying to get it is something that can produce a lot of shame in people. So … how dare you want more? How dare you go out and get what you want? How do you ask for it when you’re not sure if you even deserve it? It’s an easy song to write about the people in my life and the hardest thing to do to oneself. This one is the band on fire. Testing the boundaries of how close we can get to the edge without falling off. This recording could not have happened with any other group of people and its the direct sound of all the time we’ve spent on the road and how we’ve learned to know what each other is going to do. The band is carrying me through.”