It's been roughly four years since former Something Corporate
singer Andrew McMahon released his first solo CD under the
pseudonym Jack's Mannequin, and with the recent release of
The Glass Passenger it is apparent that real life drama is
what fuels earnest and heartfelt music. Having been diagnosed with
leukemia after the release of Everything In Transit, Jack's
Mannequin's first album, McMahon took a leave from music to focus
on his health. His struggles have come to fruition in the form of
this darker collection of songs that invert the light-hearted and
sunny shine of Everything In Transit. But does such a turn
threaten to alienate fans or repel those sweetened to the addictive
hooks and poppy beats from his earlier work?
Not likely. Everything In Transit is thought by many to be
a modern day classic in the genre of pop-punk. And while The Glass
Passenger may not be as instantly accessible or as lyrically and
musically fun as Everything In Transit, we must keep in mind
that fun alone does not a good album make. The album begins with McMahon's
trademark piano ushering in the familiar sound that fans have long
become attuned to. "I want to hear some music," is the first
line of the disc and such a sentiment echoes the much awaited anticipation
for McMahon's return to those who love him the most, his devout fanbase.
The darker tones of the album, while making the disc quite somber,
provide the deepest insight into one of the most underrated songwriters
of his generation. His focus has widened from typical teenage love
woes ("American Love"), to include self-reflections on his
battle with cancer (on the especially powerful and inspiring "Swim"),
the chemistry between musician and audience ("Hammer and Strings
(A Lullaby)") and even several jabs at current politics and media:
"Got my news from the CNN, like sheep to the slaughter."
Standing out amongst the simply satisfactory tracks is "Annie
Use Your Telescope" that is dreamy, hypnotic and haunting with
gorgeous strings and a distant Andrew McMahon wailing along with his
piano. It's the occasional magnificent song like this that demonstrates
how much growth can take place between two records - Andrew McMahon's
skills at songwriter are the best they've ever been here.
On first track, "Crashin'", McMahon ponders: "Even
if my voice comes back again, maybe there'll be no one listening."
He has nothing to worry about though, for The Glass Passenger
offers up what Jack's Mannequin and Something Corporate fans have
always wanted; earnest, vulnerable and dependable songs performed
by one of the most underappreciated talents in today's music scene.
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