Jack Antonoff’s newest project as a solo artist—under the name Bleachers—is an all-too-real escape from the filtered buoyancy produced by his other band, Fun. The album, titled Strange Desire, is cinematic, lightly processed, and overrun with adolescent intimacy interposed with adult tragedy. Its lyrics are splayed out haphazardly, and they resonate with an overarching familiarity similar to that of reading a teenager’s diary. They are real, and the guitar riffs and hazy beats that accompany them, for the most part, mix seamlessly to form a disjointed but exultant sound.
Strange Desire is strong right out of the gate. Opening track “Wild Heart” has an ‘80s vibe echoing through each piano chord, and the controlled explosion into the chorus is an excellent precursor to the album’s build into its strongest track, pre-released “I Wanna Get Better”. By utilizing sharp pop-centric beats and poignant phrases delivered straight from the shrink’s couch, “I Wanna Get Better” deftly summarizes the attitude expressed through the remainder of the tracks: we are growing, we are hurting, we are loving, and we are always trying to get better.
In comparison, some of the remaining songs fall flat. “Wild Heart Reprise” featuring Yoko Ono is uncomfortable and over-processed, while “Take Me Away” seems like a poor last-ditch attempt to appeal to the club scene. Despite these drawbacks, the album can still hold its own as an eclectic off-beat sound full of adult angst and teenage heart. It is undeniably strange, intimately desirable, and definitely worth a listen.