I am always listening to music.
It seems like whenever I’m listening to music, I’m always listening to Bleachers.
Sometimes I am listening to be listening, and sometimes I am feeling.
A year ago, I was on the front end of what was a really bad year in a lot of ways. I felt lost and lonely and broken.
Jack Antonoff and Bleachers just celebrated Strange Desire’s first birthday, so I think now is a good time to write a long overdue thank you note.
Being a complete music junkie, I tend to bounce from artist to artist, powering my way through every newly released album possible, so I know the most. It is rare that an album sticks in the way that Strange Desire did.
I can count the records that ever seemed that important on one hand.
For me, Strange Desire wasn’t the sort of album you played through quickly, the sort of songs you listened to for a few weeks and mostly forgot about. In this age of technology, we’re completely inundated with music, so it’s easier than ever to move on from one artist to another, yet I found myself for months raping the songs on Strange Desire.
Sonically, the album is unique enough, with enough depth, to keep anyone listening for awhile; and when the sounds became expected, no longer fresh to my ears, the intricate, eloquent lyrics kept me going.
It wasn’t the songs at face value though, that made Strange Desire so important to me; it was something deep, harder to explain. Within the chords and words of Strange Desire, Jack Antonoff had done something so unique, and powerful; he had created an album filled with more emotion than I’d previously thought possible. Strange Desire evoked the same sorts of feelings that I felt; Strange Desire allowed me to feel exactly what I was feeling in my day to day life even when I couldn’t explain those feelings myself.
And it never stopped.
Summer ticked by, and things got darker for me inside my head. I kept playing that album, different lyrics spoke different things to me every time.
I remember sometime in October or November, a particularly anxious, depressive day. Rain poured down outside, mirroring the dreary, gloom that had all but overcome me. I laid on the couch in our living room, sinking into it; my whole body felt like I couldn’t move, I felt exhausted from being sad, anxiety flooded me from my brain to my chest. I played Wild Heart over and over, and it felt like the only thing that could make me better. It mesmerized me; it filled my body were the anxiety had been. My heart beat to it.
Naturally, Wild Heart became my favorite track for a very long time. It felt like a gift to me; the entire album felt like Jack had written it to save me. Listening to Strange Desire felt, and continues to feel, like Bleachers understands me on a level that I don’t understand myself. It’s the same darkness as me; it commiserates with me, but doesn’t allow me to fall too far. It gives me a chance to break, but only so it can put me back together better.
There are countless days when I start to feel that same anxiety pressing in on me, my chest starts to feel tight, and my only remedy is to return to the sounds of Strange Desire; my only solace is in music, in Jack’s songs.
It’s haunting, but it’s not scary. It’s beautiful, powerful, and truly a most special piece of art.
A few posts ago, I wrote a glowing review of HANA, after she released Avalanche. After posting the link on Twitter, she thanked me for my support, and I remember feeling so thankful and satisfied to know that she had seen it, not because I wanted the attention, but so that I knew my encouragement and gratitude had truly reached her. It’s rare, again because of the inundation due to technology, that people put themselves into their songs anymore.
It’s even more rare that an entire album be filled with so much raw, genuine emotion. In Strange Desire, Jack shared something so special with the world, and what he shared made me better.
I don’t know if Jack will ever read this; his fan base is maybe just a bit larger than HANA’s at the moment, but I’ve always wanted to thank him, and always get too excited when I meet him in person to remember, so this is it. Thank you Jack Antonoff. Here’s to Strange Desire, the album that ruined me, and the album that saved me.
If you’re not a Bleachers fan yet, become one.
PHOTOS: Bleachers Insta, Youtube, etc.