(2019) Bleached - Don't You Think You've Had Enough
These days, far fewer eyebrows are raised when someone at the bar opts for seltzer instead of a scotch. Musicians and various celebrities proudly proclaim their sobriety and are open about their substance abuse issues, negating the long-perpetuated myth that artists can only create when struggling. From Best Coastâ€™s Bethany Cosentino to Eminem to Idles, sobriety is becoming hearteningly more commonplace in an industry that has long glorified drug and alcohol-fuelled debauchery. It is in this light that Bleached, the Los Angeles band of sisters Jessica and Jennifer Clavin, created their latest LP, entitled Donâ€™t You Think Youâ€™ve Had Enough? â€” a question that the recently sober pair repeatedly asked themselves in the years leading up to their lifestyle change. Bleached made their mark back in 2013 with their debut Ride Your Heart, a lo-fi rock record filled with distinctly Californian â€˜60s surf-pop harmonies. Their sound grew noticeably darker on Welcome to the Worms in 2016, with a noisiness and insistence harkening back to their days in garage rock band Mika Miko. Now, though, the grit and grime has been wiped off in favor of a style that, while still giving off the same dangerous edge, often has the glittering sheen of some femme fataleâ€™s soundtrack rather than the rough-hewn punk attitude Bleached embodied before. Itâ€™s hard not to see the change as analogous to their newfound sobrietyâ€”being â€œcleanâ€ and having a slightly â€œcleanerâ€ soundâ€”but their glossier style is likely due to their higher profile and thus increased access to higher quality (in purely technical terms) production. The anthemic â€œHeartbeat Awayâ€ makes for a taut opening with â€œHard to Kill,â€ showing that the group has graduated to ever-larger stages and a more stadium-ready sound (the band noted that they were inspired by tourmates like Paramore and The Damned). â€œHard to Kill,â€ which depicts the life of an addict spiraling towards disaster but still narrowly missing it, is infectiously catchy with throbbing funk basslines and the occasional cowbell. At times, though, the song veers towards the anonymous cool of the slick tracks playing during car commercials. Part of this is probably thanks to the sistersâ€™ collaboration with producer Shane Stoneback (Vampire Weekend, Sleigh Bells), who guided them towards genre experimentationsâ€”a dip into country territory on â€œValley to LA,â€ a taste of disco on â€œKiss You Goodbyeâ€â€”that are fun but superficial at best, serving little purpose other than as new hook delivery systems. One major exception is â€œSomebody Dial 911,â€ a new wave-inflected track about cutting off a relationship with a fellow addict with Christmas-y â€œoohsâ€ and chiming synths that nod slightly at Tears for Fearsâ€™ â€œEverybody Wants to Rule the World.â€ The happy-sad stylings of new wave feels made for the twin heartbreaks of leaving a romantic partner and (no matter how destructive) an entire way of life behind. Addiction as subject matter is by no means new territory, but Bleached switch up their approach by loosely traveling backwards in time on the album. They begin with their present day sobriety on â€œHeartbeat Awayâ€ (a daily commitmentâ€”â€œItâ€™s stay alive or suicide / But itâ€™s only a heartbeat awayâ€), building up to later songs â€œValley to LAâ€ and â€œAwkward Phase,â€ recalling the Clavin sistersâ€™ upbringing in Southern California at â€œbackyard parties where we dressed like boys.â€ Despite the over-production that occasionally takes away from the Clavinsâ€™ raw talent, the album itself tells vital truths about the codependence of addicts (â€œThis is hell and I canâ€™t hide / But youâ€™re keeping me alive / Saying such sweet things to meâ€), the rose-colored glasses worn when remembering the days before being consumed by alcoholism (â€œYeah I know how this ends / And Iâ€™d watch it again / Every loss and win,â€) and the importance of acknowledging sobriety as a continuous journey. The Clavin sisters use a personal approach to make a major appeal, realizing that sometimes asking a simple questionâ€”â€Donâ€™t you think youâ€™ve had enough?â€â€”could be life-changing.
Genre: indie-pop, indie-rock
Format/Info: Free Lossless Audio Codec, 16-bit PCM
Bit rate mode: Variable
Channel(s): 2 channels
Sampling rate: 44.1 KHz
Bit depth: 16 bits