Jack Antonoff was able to craft the vanity project known as Bleachers’ “Strange Desire” because he’s a got a good day gig. As guitarist with fun., Antonoff helped to craft an elegant marriage of “Glee” cast recordings and ’80s synth pop with an introspective songwriter’s edge, and scaled platinum heights.
As Bleachers, however, he doesn’t even attempt to hide his nigh-on-creepy fascination with ’80s pop by marrying it to anything. This album could’ve been released in 1985.
“Strange Desire” is a love letter to an era Antonoff can only possibly have known as a toddler. Clearly, he’s obsessed. From the cover art, depicting Antonoff slumped on a bed looking far too much like Mark Almond of Soft Cell for comfort, through the singalong Thompson Twins paean “Rollercoaster,” through various Duran Duran/early Tears For Fears pastiches with titles like “Reckless Love,” “I Wanna Get Better” and “Like A River Runs,” Antonoff never lets the facade slip. He does not appear to be kidding.
It’s all a bit ridiculous, but “Strange Desire” is abundantly stuffed with incredibly catchy hooks and shameless retro synth flourishes that it’s tough to resist its charms. They are fleeting charms, to be sure. But they’re charms, nonetheless.
"Strange Desire" (RCA)