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Alternative & Indie - Released July 30, 2021 | RCA Records Label
No one else thinks quite like Jack Antonoff, which is how he has become the in-demand producer for a certain type of tender and strong female artist: Taylor Swift, Lorde, Clairo, St. Vincent, Lana Del Rey, the Chicks, Olivia Rodrigo... He's able to use music to pull heartstrings in the most devastating and joyous ways, sometimes both at once. Some of his choices are so out there, yet so familiar, that you are never idly listening. That's certainly the case with the third album from his post-fun. band, Bleachers. You can pinpoint any number of things that the songs sound like—but Antonoff and his bandmates mix up the (intentional or not) influences in such a way that it all feels brand new and not like anything else happening right now. For the first two Bleachers albums, the band was in the tank for a precise '80s vibe—the John Hughes soundtrack; this time around, the view is more expansive. "HDYWM" (How Dare You Want More) is a vibrant joyride of jittery Vampire Weekend guitar, pop-punk "hey! hey!" and big-hearted Springsteen spirit. It fades off into a clever call-and-response between guitar and sax, with Antonoff joining in, before sweeping into a giant, Clarence Clemons-style sax (plus Jerry Lee Lewis-style piano) scene that commands dancing. "Big Life" flirts with rockabilly—both 1950s and '80s style—and Meatloaf theatrics, complete with a hiccuping chorus. "45" gives off vapors of the Kinks and the Shins, with Antonoff comparing a past relationship to "old 45s spinnin' out of time." And while Antonoff, a proud son of New Jersey, landed the state's patron saint himself, even this Springsteen cameo is unexpected. Instead of using The Boss on a more obvious track, like "HDYWM" or "DGD" (Don't Go Dark—co-written with Lana Del Rey), he shows up on the slower, stirring "Chinatown." Antonoff's own vocals drop out mid-line and Springsteen appears out of nowhere, raspy as ever, like some ghost of the future. Novelist Zadie Smith also guests, lending lyrics to the strings-driven "91": "It's '91, a war is on/ I watch in black, white, and green/ My mother dances around like there ain't no rip in the seam." "SMTH" (Stop Making This Hurt) radiates with nervous energy and bright '80s-style horns, making it the most like an "old" Bleachers song. There are lovely ballads ("Secret Life" and "SB"), and "All This Faith" is cinematic-romantic with its sweeping strings, pretty acoustic guitar and echo-y chorus. With so many oddball twists and turns, you have to wonder: Is Antonoff one of the most clever musicians working today, is it all happy accidents, or is he living in some magical lightning-strike moment? © Shelly Ridenour/Qobuz
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Alanis Morissette - Such Pretty Forks in The Road
Canadian Alanis Morissette’s ninth studio album is carried by Smiling, a song written for the Broadway adaptation of her third album Jagged Little Pill, released in 1995. The track appears in the first act when Mary Jane Healy (the mother of a modest family in Connecticut) highlights the contradi...