by Marco Ovies
As a long-time Bleachers fan, it hurts me to admit that I was a little disappointed by their latest album Take the Sadness Out of Saturday Night. Over the years, Jack Antonoff (the creator of Bleachers) has become a powerhouse in the music production industry. He has collaborated with the likes of Taylor Swift, Clairo, St. Vincent, Lana Del Ray and worked with Lorde exclusively on Melodrama and her more recent projects “Solar Power” and “Stoned at the Nail Salon”. But it appears that Antonoff’s creative genius has been devoted to other projects and has left us with a lacklustre album.
Don’t get me wrong, Take the Sadness Out of Saturday Night is a good album and probably one of the best projects of 2021. But it feels rushed, not as personal, and lacks the classic sad anthems that Bleachers have become famous for. Tracks “Stop Making This Hurt” and “How Dare You Want More” do give off that anthem energy but were released prior to the album leaving me disappointed by the rest of the songs.
Additionally, this album does not feel as cohesive as Bleachers other albums. Both of their albums Strange Desire and Gone Now encourage listeners to listen to them as a whole and features recurring musical themes and reprises. Take the Sadness Out of Saturday Night does not have that same unity and instead feels like a collection of good songs with no overarching theme. Again, this is a good collection of music and I did enjoy listening to Bleachers new music, but it just lacked the same quality that attracted me to Bleachers in the first place.
Take the Sadness Out of Saturday Night sounds confused as if the album does not know what it is meant to be. In previous works, you can hear the 80’s influence under all of Bleacher’s music. However, this album takes us back a little bit further. It features music captured on vintage microphones and lots of slapback echo, something made famous by Elvis Presley and is a hallmark of ’50s and ’60s rock n roll and is used by many such as Bruce Springsteen (who conveniently makes an appearance on the album).
The quieter parts of this album are where Antonoff really tries to break down the walls that he has built for himself. Songs like “Big Life” incorporate singer-songwriter elements mixed with slapback echo, surf rock-inspired guitar, and enough big changes to show us that Antonoff knows the rules of writing a hit and purposefully chooses to break them to bring us something new. I would have preferred an album that carried more of this energy, and it’s coincidentally when Bleachers switches to their comfortable alt-rock roots where the album gets messy and disjointed.
This album had the potential to develop into something completely new for the band, but they continue to fall back on this crutch of soaring anthems. It feels like Antonoff was scared to venture out too far. He delivers on presenting these new ideas but timidly retreats to “Don’t Go Dark” and “How Dare You Want More” as if he’s worried that people won’t like this new direction and is playing into what he thinks his fans want.
Jack Antonoff is an incredibly talented musician and producer, and I am excited to see his future collaborations (I’m looking at you Lorde). Perhaps it’s just a change from what I was expecting, or my expectations were too high, but Take the Sadness Out of Saturday Night was just good. Not great, just good. This won’t stop me from enjoying the album, but it has left me wanting a bit more. I’m looking forward to this new direction Antonoff is venturing into and I hope in his next work he leans more into this new sound.