Bleachers: Take the Sadness Out of Saturday Night review - Jack Antonoff is back in the room

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Jack Antonoff (Handout)
Jack Antonoff (Handout)

The first remarkable thing about the third Bleachers album is the fact that it exists at all. They’re the band project of Jack Antonoff, who has recently become so ubiquitous in the songwriting and production world that any big album by a female artist seems legally obliged to include his name on the credits.

Taylor Swift, Lana Del Rey, The Chicks, Clairo, Lorde and St Vincent have all worked with the 37-year-old on recent or forthcoming albums, and it seems he’s not just hanging out with musicians. The first track here, 91, has a surprise co-writing credit for the novelist Zadie Smith.

There is something more muscular to the Bleachers sound than the quiet, carefully textured songs on, say, Clairo’s exquisite Sling from earlier this month. Raised in New Jersey, he can’t help but sound in thrall to the dynamic work of that state’s living legend Bruce Springsteen. How Dare You Want More and Don’t Go Dark both have that rowdy, racing down the highway feel, and the Boss fits right in when he shows up in person to sing on Chinatown.

But what this album has in common with Antonoff’s other recent production work is the loose, rough-edged sound of musicians playing together in a room. Lockdown made him feel more strongly about being around his touring band. “We played like we might not play again,” he has said, and that feeling of wild release comes across on songs such as 45 and Big Life. It’s messy but essential.

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