We have a strange relationship with Jack Antonoff. Every so often he has a moment of brilliance, but we’ve never quite bought the Bleachers mould. Neither have we particularly loved his more-miss-than-hit ration when it comes to artists. Or, well, maybe we still hold his fun. background against him.
That sort of changes with Gone Now, and it’s so much easier to forgive the inconsistency that’s gonna be the death of us. There’s no doubt Antonoff can craft a solid three-minute hit, and the opener Dream of Mickey Mantle expresses that fully: a pop-rock gem that rollicks in the glee of its own chorus, the sort of song The Killers wish they could still producer with this minimal fuss. The exact same could be said for the joyous light-shade stadium anthem Don’t Take The Money.
Antonoff still frustratingly gives with one hand and takes with the other. There’s a rambling, almost spoken-word Goodmorning, with Antonoff’s raspy vocal the misguided spearhead in between two gems; meanwhile Everybody Lost Somebody is another example of indulgent aspirations of art-rock fall a little bit flat. They don’t suit the personality behind them, and they don’t fit exactly in the mould of tremendous bangers this album is laced with. (Except Let’s Get Married. That’s so painfully obvious you can practically see the viral wedding proposal being filmed as we type.)
The odd thing about some of these songs, ironically, is sometimes they feel like they’d shine even brighter in someone else’s hands. Hate That You Know Me could have been made for a pop queen; All My Heroes feels like it needs a little bit more charisma and, well, involvement.
Still, this is by far Antonoff’s best work, Bleachers or otherwise; we’ll always be thankful to have him around purely because of how refreshing this record is in such a tired climate. He’s finding a firm footing, added confidence, and even a degree of heart we haven’t seen before on the welcome ballad Nothing Is U or his Francis-esque turn Foreign Girls. That’s the odd dichotomy of Antonoff though: he works either when he strips it right back to basics or goes full-pelt for a classy arena-filler. Anything in between doesn’t just cut it.