ALBUM REVIEW: STRANGE DESIRE BY BLEACHERS
Imagine this: you’re a teen in the suburbs. You still haven’t figured out who you are, yet somehow, you’re your most invincible self. Alongside the greatest people you know, the town is yours to conquer. That’s what Bleachers’ Strange Desire feels like.
Jack Antonoff’s latest project takes you to a place of unabashedly juvenile times (but in the most charming way possible). The opening track, “Wild Heart,” feels straight out of a John Hughes movie with its 80s-style recurring riffs and epic interludes. Same goes for the following song, “Rollercoaster:” upbeat and powerful and undoubtedly 80s. Its lyrics scream utterly youthful confidence—the kind that makes you want to throw your fist in the air like Bender in The Breakfast Club.
Even more brat pack anthems are “Shadow” and “I Wanna Get Better,” which are also Bleachers’ currently released singles. “I Wanna Get Better” is probably the biggest culprit for Bleachers’ eighties suburban nostalgia. With lyrics like, “While my friends were getting high and chasing girls down pathway lines" and "That’s why I’m standing on the overpass screaming at myself,” it is an ode to the tumultuous teenage world, in which you’re expected to find yourself.
It isn’t until the fifth song that the album’s pace slows down. “Wake Me” features melancholically dissonant guitar riffs, reminiscent to the sounds of OMD or Modern English. Lyrically, it’s sweet and sensitive. It’s a promise: “I’d rather be sad with you / than anywhere away from you / And hey, I can’t believe I captured your heart / If you’re lonely, wake me."
The latter half of the album strays from the initial eighties theme a bit. It explores elements from different genres, mostly modern pop and electronica. The song featuring Grimes and the song featuring Yoko Ono especially add an eclectic touch to the album.
The final song, “Who I Want You to Love,” ends the album in hushed tones. The beginning, raw and unplugged, is reminiscent of the stylings of Elvis Depressedly. Even the lyrics fit the comparison: “Tired of chasing my dreams / They’re always twisting / I always scream.” The song picks up in some places with grandeur interludes, but overall, “Who I Want You to Love” is quite a melancholic conclusion.
Overall, Strange Desire is a strong debut from Bleachers. It keeps a noticeably consistent (and charming) eighties teen theme, while also managing to venture other music stylings. Also, Antonoff isn’t afraid to get personal in his lyrics, which is always something to appreciate.
If you’ve ever wanted to live in a John Hughes movie, then Bleachers is the closest you’ve got. Listen to Strange Desire here.