“I will find any way to your wild heart,” sings Sara Bareilles in the album’s opening track, “Wild Heart.” She is the first in a series of female vocalists that take over lead vocals for Bleachers’ preexisting songs throughout this album, followed by guest artists such as Charli XCX and Elle King. A companion to Bleachers’ Strange Desire and named after another album by Steel Drums, this album features exclusively female lead vocals on each track. Created with the goal of highlighting the sound of female voices in Bleachers’ preexisting songs, this album explores how Bleachers’ writer Jack Antonoff wanted his songs to sound.
A female voice changes a song’s feeling and message, and the songwriter has long wanted to include them in his work. For most tracks, Bleachers altered the original music scores to better match the new voices and feel of the songs. The result is a unique listening experience that takes audiences on an eclectic ride back to the 70s and 80s with the voices of today.
As mentioned, the album opens with a short synths intro into Bareilles’ calm and clear voice, followed by Charli XCX. She sings “Rollercoaster” with a punk twist in her voice and prominent guitar and drums, bringing the energy level of the album up. “I Wanna Get Better,” a well-known track in Strange Desire, maintains its sense of struggle and tension with Tinashe on vocals, although the electric accompaniment and drums become more prominent in the second version.
“Wake Me” quickly follows, with a sense of 60s relaxation and beach vibes due to the introduction of a guitar, emphasizing a female-Elvis feeling that was not present in the original song. Sia and “Like a River Runs” come in as the eighth track, bringing the album on a somber turn with soft strings and piano building up in a crescendo and calming back down to end on the same serious tone.
Next is MØ’s take on “You’re Still a Mystery.” She doesn’t deviate from the original except in introducing an energetic saxophone solo during the bridge of the song (this was purely a vocal transition in the original). For the final two tracks, Bleachers took a clear departure from the original versions of the songs. In these songs, the band shifted from electronically synthesized music to live instruments such as the guitar and piano. The result is a more soft and emotional ending to the album, bringing the listener full circle.
Bleachers’ final product is dynamic and varied. Known for their unique sound among indie-electric circles, this album gives the band depth and provides more material for hungry fans. This album’s very obvious differences in sound, feel and vocalists are a departure from those typical of Bleachers, but draw listeners in and highlight how the same song can be interpreted in unique ways. Released in late September, the album has been well received by critics and fans despite its drastic change from the band’s sound. You can find it on Google Play and YouTube under the band’s channel name, Bleachers.