New Jersey native Jack Antonoff is best known as the affable super producer who has played midwife to works by Taylor Swift, Lana Del Rey and Lorde. Big on tunes, Antonoff’s aesthetic nonetheless embodies intriguing contradictions: a pop maximalist, he’s also a guitar kid at heart, balancing look-at-me jazz hands with downplayed vocals and atmospheric fuzz. Back in 2014, Bleachers’ debut was full of nods to Bruce Springsteen. In 2020, the man himself turned up on backing vocals on the none-more-Boss track Chinatown.
So many American acts have played Boss moves in recent years – the Killers, the War on Drugs – but this Bleachers album feels like it’s about showing someone where Antonoff grew up in Jersey; at least a third of it is powered by joyous E Street Band poses, its anthemics pleasantly furred up by vulnerability. It all feels highly personal, with Antonoff still channelling underdog status on songs such as How Dare You Want More. There’s plenty of filigree too: string arrangements by Annie “St Vincent” Clark, input from Warren Ellis and a writing credit for Zadie Smith.