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Bleachers’ “Chinatown” & “45” – Singles Review

This last Monday, Bleachers surprised fans and listeners with two brand new singles from the junior LP which is set to arrive in 2021. They are “Chinatown” and “45”.

It came as a shock after all the hard work over the years that in “Chinatown” he finally got a chance to sing with The Boss himself, Bruce Springsteen — said to be a huge inspiration. Antonoff and Springsteen sing from hopeful hearts about reaching out for a new love, and about the promise of the following change. This single boasts wrenching synthesizers and Hutchinson/Riddleberger’s slower kind of rolling thunder on the drums, among other things.

“45” as a title references high fidelity vinyls for single tracks, and it comes up as a metaphor for two people out of sync. This song has much less of the heavy production that we see in its counterpart, with an acoustic guitar and somehow a more personal aura. In the announcement on his personal Instagram account, he explains the mindset of the new music:

These songs to me are leaving your “city life” to return to you at your most complicated and truest. Showing your cards to someone by taking them to the core of who you are and then having to see those cards yourself. That’s the real complication with letting people in, you have to see yourself through them and it’s never what you imagined for better and worse. That’s what these two songs are and that is where I have been writing from.

Something about this larger “returning” feels parallel to the central message of 2017’s Gone Now, the record which has left followers of Jack’s progress awaiting new music. Before that was the 2014 debut Strange Desire, arriving when frontman Jack Antonoff split off from the pop group “Fun.” to go his own direction. While Antonoff enjoyed his time with Fun., he may have been nostalgic for formative-years band Steel Train (composed of friends, and facing notable success). Though Antonoff’s marking moment was with his group Outline, which toured in a van driven by the only one of the lot who had a license. This movie-esque rock success story isn’t Antonoff’s intention with press, believe it or not. More so than answering questions about himself, Antonoff seems to steer toward owing his existence to a legendary New Jersey music community. Nostalgia, and 80s new wave inspiration, melded into the emergent electro-pop group known as Bleachers.

Jack is also widely known for his production ability, working closely with artists such as Pink, Lana Del Ray (Norman F*****g Rockwell!) Taylor Swift (Folklore, ghostwriting some of 1989), Lorde, and even the OST for the movie Love, Simon. Not to mention the genre-smashing trio, Red Hearse. For the sake of brevity I won’t write out the entire list of credits he has.

This review serves as a lookout for the next album, the release of which was adjusted to 2021.

Maybe fans can hope for another tour as well, because above creating music, Jack Antonoff has stated a passion for playing shows and the intimate atmosphere conjured up by them. Shadow of the City, the annual summer festival in Asbury Park, is his creation also — honoring and cherishing New Jersey. Due to the quarantine, he was unable to do it this summer. He recorded himself at the piano with a very touching commentary to fans, in place of what would have been said on stage. After that, teases for the junior LP surmounted: hinting at a song called “Take the Sadness Out of Saturday Night” and posts about working on the album. Such is why on monday, many were pleasantly surprised with a taste of the new material and anticipate the rest of it in the coming year.

“Chinatown” Rating: 10/10

“45” Rating: 9/10

Article By: Justin Capra

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