Although ‘Don’t You Think You’ve Had Enough?’ is Dead Oceans (Phoebe Bridgers, The Tallest Man on Earth, Mitski) signings Bleached’s third album, it’s the first that the sisters have written from a place of sobriety. When it came to writing the tracks, the duo decided to go back to basics with Jessie Clavin handling the bulk of the instrumentation and Jennifer the lyrics and melodies. The results are really quite special…
Huge drums and Joan Jett-style guitar hooks signal the start of the opening ‘Heartbeat Away’, a song that brilliantly features an actual bell ringing when it’s mentioned in the lyrics. The band sing about the afterlife before a psychedelic-infused breakdown transforms the track into something with more slacker vibes: ‘I could go back to the way it was’. There’s a foot-shuffling rhythm in ‘Hard to Kill as it manages to reference The Cure in its opening couple of lines: ‘I don’t care ’cause Friday I’m in love’, Following this, the sisters are hellbent on burning down cities and leaving a trail of destruction amidst a glorious clash of cowbells and handclaps: ‘After all the things that weve done, it turns out I’m very hard to kill’. ‘Daydream’ has more of a garage rock feel with grungey undertones that reminded us of Tacocat. It’s a nostalgic piece about refusing to let go of a first love that you believed would last forever – even when the significant other has quite clearly moved on: ‘You were talking to somebody new. What a disgrace, what a mistake it wasn’t me you were talking to’; and ‘I thought this was just a phase, we said we were going to get married one day’ being swiftly followed by ‘You were gonna leave flowers on my grave’).
‘I Get What I Need’ is under two minutes long and blends Tom Petty-style guitar work with a bluesy feel as the sisters look back on their past behaviour with a hint of regret: ‘I lie to get what I need. Father save me, I’ve been lucky Mother can’t see, she keeps believing’. Following this is the ’80s-inspired power pop of ‘Somebody Dial 911’; a bittersweet tale of a hopeless romantic: ‘Saying such mean things to me. You got me acting like I’m 17’. The eminently danceable ‘Kiss You Goodbye’ recalls Hinds with its subtle disco-meets-glam rock sound and undeniably assertive lyrics: ‘Kiss you goodbye for the last time. Return to sender, feeling so ALIVE. Some things are meant to die’, while ‘Rebound City’ has one of those melodies you’re humming after the first chorus. It’s an anthem about hooking up with the friend of a psychopath ex and not letting any awkwardness affect your feelings: ‘Rebound city, I could throw you away. Rebound city, or I could just make you stay’.
There’s an appealing New Wave tone to ‘Silly Girl’ while the country-tinged ‘Valley to LA’ is another wistul piece of nostalgia, recalling the things Jennifer got up to in her teenage years: running way from home for three days; getting bruises from new shows; and attending parties ‘where we dressed as boys’. ‘Real Life’ comes across as Carly Rae Jepsen fronting The Killers (which we now think HAS to happen in real life) as Jennifer faces up to grown-up responsibilites without losing her identity: ‘I don’t really wanna give up all the stupid things that make me me’.
The penultimate ‘Awkward Phase’ has a darker shade to the instrumentation while Jennifer reminisces about being offered her first job and wearing a ‘No Doubt crop top. She then fondly looks back on hiding out, remembers how ‘we’d sit and make out. It’s all I can think about’ and reveals that ‘I got some pictures I don’t wannt explain’. ‘Shitty Ballet’ closes the record in an anti-folk style that gave us the same kind of feelings as Slow Club’s debut – it’s an acoustic-led track to start with Jennifer’s lyrics talking about ‘tripping over things that I say’ and watching ‘shitty ballet’ before going on to remember being given ‘cheap advice from a bartender’. She also delivers a stern warning: ‘What can I say that you won’t engrave on your heart?’ As the vocals become more impassioned, the song builds up the tempo and smashes into a climax of thunderous guitar and clattering drums.
We don’t think you can ever have enough of this new record from Bleached.