Is The New Bleachers CD "Strange Desire" The Shit, or Just Shit?

For fun.'s Jack Antonoff, the success of the band's last album opened up a lot of doorways, gave him a lot of freedom and some walking-around money, and presented the opportunity to unveil his new side project Bleachers to a wider audience than he could have otherwise imagined.

With his '80s influences stapled firmly to sleeve, Antonoff covers much of the same terrain that Matt Sharp covered on the Rentals' debut album, Return of the Rentals, but with stronger, more consistent writing.
"Shadow", in fact, is reminiscent of Tegan and Sara (with whom Matt Sharp has worked) and, had they written it for their recent bold stab at mass success, it would have been the breakout hit they needed.  "I Wanna Get Better" is a jubilant radio-ready ear-worm that wouldn't have sounded out of place on a fun. record and seems tailor made for the next episode of girlfriend Lena Dunham's TV show.

"Wake Me", by comparison, is a slower, brooding track that simmers and pulsates, recalling Lana Del Rey in its ethereal, cinematic sweep.

The percussive "Reckless Love" is the one track that sounds closest to what we've come to expect from fun.; blatantly, joyously unbridled hooks flying from all directions and a subtle build to climax.

"Like A River Runs" is an elegiac, show-stopping standout that, if there is any justice in the music world, will become as well known as any fun. track.

Having put it off as long as possible, we must now address the Yoko Ono collaboration, "I'm Ready To Move On/Wild Heart Reprise.  On second thought, the less said the better.  It's a non-essential addition to an otherwise fine album.

The thing to do at this point would have been to give fans a song that ratchets up the energy level but, instead, we get "Who I Want You To Love", a sow, subtle, piano-based ballad that ends the album on a somber note.

Even so, the first half of Strange Desire is as strong as anything Antonoff has done, in Steel Train or fun., and "I Wanna Get Better" is earmarked to be one of 2014's catchiest jingles, er, singles!

VERDICT: This one is THE SHIT.  Buy it.

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