Jack Antonoff has always been a creative force. From his sophomore year in high school back in 2002, when he recorded a short EP with his school band, Outline, he has been making music. Outline wouldn’t last longer than a year, but it would be a period consisting of self-booked tours across a number of states in America, and it would be the experience that would make the teenage Antonoff first fall in love with touring and creating music.
His time in Outline would be followed by a reasonably successful period from 2002 to 2008 as a member of the band Steel Train, which consisted of Antanoff, Scott Irby-Ranniar, Evan Winiker, Matthew Goldman, and Matthias Gruber.
However the big break came from Antonoff in 2008 when he would be asked to form a new band with Nate Ruess and Andrew Dost. The band would become known as Fun. Fun would be a very exciting time for Antonoff and would see the band release two successful albums, Aim and Ignite (2009) and Some Nights (2012). It would also launch Antonoff clearly into the public eye. However when Fun. decided to go on hiatus in 2015, it allowed Antonoff time to build on his reputation within the music industry, as well as helping him to explore his own solo ventures.
My first real exposure with the solo music career of Antonoff came when getting a lift home from college last year with a few friends one of them put the song Rollercoaster from the album Strange Desire on the car radio. It lead me to want to listen to more from the album.
Strange Desire is everything you would expect from an Antonoff release. Excellent production and interesting and elaborate synth driven instrumentation are mixed perfectly with the accessible vocals, as Antonoff investigates themes of love and meaning in life.
Tracks like Wild Heart and Reckless Love are compelling articulations of how love with the someone special can help to put everything else into perspective, make all the negatives seem surmountable, as well as investigating the complicated theme of mental health.
The idea of mental health and losing your sense of identity is again explained in the the lead single from the album, I Wanna Get Better. This track is another articulation of the effects that a failed relationship can have on your sense of who you are – and often you need more than just deciding to change your outlook to actually be able to go it.
One of the standout tracks on the album is the fantastic Like a River Runs. Powerful driving drums and a beautiful guitar riff carries the sentiment of losing someone that you care about but desperately wanting to find them again. The drums on this track are really brilliantly and expertly capture the idea of looking for the “rhythm of your wild heart”.
The album also features two noticeable featured artists with Grimes contributing to the track Take Me Away, and Yoko Ono performing on the track I’m Ready to Move On/Wild Heart Reprise. The quality of these featured artists is again another testament to the esteemed place that Antonoff occupies in music.
Bleachers was the first foray into solo music by Antonoff after success as a producer and songwriter with Fun, there was plenty to suggest here that he had plenty to offer in his own right.