Bleachers’ ‘Gone Now’ is a Cathartic Collage of Loss and Moving On

Jack Antonoff, aka Bleachers, is no stranger to loss and goodbyes. The former fun. guitarist has been working on the follow-up to his debut solo project, 2014’s Strange Desire, while simultaneously writing songs with superstars like Lorde and Taylor Swift. Finally, Gone Now is here, a beautifully messy collage of nostalgia, grief, and love capsulated in synth, found noises of New York City streets, and simple looped phrases such as “I gotta get myself back home soon.” It’s a deeply personal self-reflection splayed out on a large public platform for fans to hear, relate to, and celebrate.

Last month Antonoff announced he was taking his entire childhood bedroom on tour—not a duplicate, his actual New Jersey childhood bedroom, down to the original wallpaper and carpet, all in a mobile trailer. He has said many times that Gone Now is the kind of music you listen to in your bedroom, not only because he created it and many of his musical projects in that room, but also because it’s supposed to be heard in that specific room.

The album is anthemic enough to be summer festival worthy, but still has intimate elements that set it apart from the next indie record. It speaks volumes without becoming superficial; it’s an album that addresses a profound sadness but also conveys celebration. “Don’t Take the Money,” the crowning single of Gone Now, is as powerful and cathartic as Strange Desire’s “I Wanna Get Better.” Over a sugary synth keyboard beat, Antonoff belts out lyrics about love, and how outrageously conflicting and imperfect it can be.

Another honourable mention is the sobering “Everybody Lost Somebody.” This is the first track featuring the looping phrase “I gotta get myself back home soon,” which is the running theme of Gone Now. The beat is unconventional, and the descending saxophone riff and backing drums are reminiscent of New York buskers. Antonoff sings about his grief and loss by humanizing it: everybody he’s ever seen has also experienced loss in the same ways he has.

Since Antonoff helped many pop stars write chart-topping anthems in the time between Strange Desire’s release and now, it’s no surprise that a couple of them are featured on this album. “Don’t Take the Money” is co-written by Lorde and features her singing backup, and the electro-pop “Hate that you Know Me” features a Carley Rae Jepsen vocal backup.

The pacing is much the same as 2014’s Strange Desire. The first half of the album is upbeat and triumphant, but the energy tapers off as it nears the end. There’s an appropriate amount of continuity between Strange Desire and Gone Now, which connects the two albums without too much repetition. The second last track of Strange Desire is titled “I’m Ready to Move On / Wild Heart Reprise,” and the second last track of Gone Now is “I’m Ready to Move On / Mickey Mantle Reprise,” but both are completely different tracks. They’re the knots that thematically wrap up each album in their own unique ways.

Gone Now conveys nostalgia and love through Antonoff’s personal lens. In the context of Strange Desire, it’s an excellent follow up that allows listeners to feel at home while simultaneously getting them to jump on their feet and belt out every word. This album is the wallpaper in every childhood bedroom, with that first album you ever fall in love with. It’s the record spinning and the streets of your hometown outside humming with life. Lock yourself in your bedroom, lie down on the bed you know so well, and blast Gone Now. After all, that’s what it was made for.

Rating: A

Recommended Tracks:
“Dream of Mickey Mantle”
“Don’t Take the Money”
“Everybody Lost Somebody”
“I’m Ready to Move On/Mickey Mantle Reprise”

(Feature Image: RCA Records)

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