I heard once on the wind the sound of youth, streetlights, and young love. A joint being rolled on the roof of your parent’s house, waking up in a crimson car, and seeing people just like you. It felt like a pop-pumped evening nap. Hazy, dreamy, bubblegum with Redbull. Turns out it was just Jack Antonoff, pop’s reliable and lovable best friend, polishing up his coming of age concept album.
Gone Now (2017) settles in your chest, familiar and lined with hope.
Beginning with “Dream of Mickey Mantle”, you can feel the converse being laced on your feet and smell the kettle corn at the baseball field. A yawning introduction carries Antonoff’s soft croons, “woke up, I’m in the In Between, honey.” This theme prevails throughout the album, perfectly summing up the confusion of being young, on fire, confused, but content. Throughout this expositional song, Antonoff names the other songs to come. He uses synth and airy, fat drums to paint a baseball field. Soft grass, sweet air and restless electricity in your blood. Finally to finish the song off, we get the heart racing and endless suburbia streets echoed by snares. “Rolling thunder, curse my bedroom. Heard from your mother, she don’t recognize you.”
“Goodmorning”, is a sweet admission. Gently, Antonoff nods to the In Between once more. This song feels like an apologetic love letter. Lacing specific details about his neighborhood, his building, the cats next door, Antonoff takes you to what vividly feels like a Brooklyn apartment. Grand piano bounces throughout, with a steady beat behind. Only cutting out, when he recalls lying. “Yeah, she touched me said ‘I know you’re not to blame.’” Finishing with a bell beat, a child crying, a woman’s warm laugh, you can feel that summer morning just the way he did.
In the orange and blue, “Hate That You Know Me”, Antonoff laments about knowing yourself so well, that you hate it. A gospel choir chants in glimmers, “sometimes, I hate that you know me so well. Some days, I wish that I wasn’t myself.” A brisk and distant, yet intimate vocal draws you into secret between you and a friend. A distorted synth accentuates the rhythm that ebbs and flows you along to a title phrase button.
Suddenly, a sparkling electric guitar and colorful padded beat takes us into a modern 80’s dance anthem. Bursting into life, “Don’t Take The Money”, puts all cards on the table. “Somebody broke me once, love was a currency. A shimmering balance act, I think that I laughed at that… I think I understand. Will I understand?” swims into the ears, a stark and necessary contrast to the coldness of the vibrant guitar riff. A snare pumped and racing chorus drives us down an empty Holland Tunnel at a million miles an hour. This is the perfect to throw your arms out to, scissor kick and feel fireworks on the roof of your mouth.
“Everybody Lost Somebody”, is one of the more empathetic songs, reminding you gently that we all have tiny holes in our lives. Everybody has lost somebody, be it a lover or a loved one, a best friend or a dog. “So come on, motherfucker. You survived, you gotta give yourself a break!” Antonoff yells, pleading to an open starry night, standing alone at the corner. High chimes distantly echo. “You know that I’m lost, lost in a world without you.” Suddenly the synth trumpets arrive, golden and bright to the forefront.