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Bleachers – ‘Chinatown’ / ’45’

How to make a big comeback while making a profound statement on nostalgic sentimentality? Enlist the king of cool, Bruce Springsteen.

Bleachers, the solo project of pop-pioneer Jack Antonoff, make their long-awaited return with two new singles ‘Chinatownand ’45, sounding as confidently cool as ever before. This is Antonoff at his most authentic, musing on the sensitive feelings of love and nostalgia.

“Chinatown starts in NYC and travels to new jersey. that pull back to the place I am from mixed with the terror of falling in love again. having to show your cards to someone and the shock when you see them for yourself. thinking you know yourself and where you are from…. having to see yourself through somebody who you want to stay.”

In ruminating with these ideas of home, Antonoff enlists fellow New Jersey native Bruce Springsteen, perhaps an architect of masculine sensitivity. The Boss enters the song in its third minute with his steely sentimentality, capturing that all-too-familiar love affair we have with our hometowns. For the ‘Born to Run’ singer, home is well and truly in his thematic wheelhouse, once again expertly capturing the unique love/hate feeling of returning to a place that you can never quite shake off.

Certainly reminiscent of Springsteen’s early-80s work, Antonoff enhances the track with synthesisers, driving the song deeper in that warm nostalgia. Jack Antonoff has always had one foot firmly rooted in the past, with sonic call-backs to the 80s having quickly become a touchstone of his records.

The 80s was an era of love songs that would prove to be truly immortal. As Antonoff puts it, the music of Bleachers is inseparably “tied to a time when big songs were great songs”.

The nostalgia it seems is the golden thread woven throughout 36-year-old Antonoff’s musical oeuvre. There’s an ever-present feeling throughout his work, of a tortured narrator endlessly spinning vinyl records in his childhood bedroom, yearning for some great adventure in the big city.

’45’ captures this feeling with ease. With Bleachers’ trademark tenderness, Antonoff rejoices the dizzying experience of love in a world that often feels overwhelming. In tandem with “Chinatown, the two tracks illustrate a yearning for human connection with that one special person. Bleachers carry a sense of restlessness with them throughout their work – always in pursuit, pining for the potential of “tomorrow”.

 

Michael Anderson
Writer

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