Jack's Mannequin journals singer's illness
Battle with cancer matures song content.
Sep. 22, 2008
After years of recuperation, months of recording and endless nights on tour, Andrew McMahon is again under the pseudonym Jack's Mannequin, having recorded his second studio album.
McMahon was diagnosed with and has been recovering from leukemia since 2005. The Glass Passenger, an album about recovery and moving on, continues the story where McMahon's last album, Everything in Transit, left off.
The Glass Passenger, overall, sounds like a matured Something Corporate with more meaningful lyrics. The tracks, especially "Annie Use Your Telescope," "Lullaby" and "Swim," are symphonic and flowing, with McMahon's pained, passionate vocals dominating the sound. There are also pop-rock songs for instant-gratification listeners, like "Suicide Blonde," "Crashin" and "The Resolution," with "Suicide Blonde" much like a summery, Beach Boys-esque tune. McMahon's scratchy voice gives it an alternative twist, and as he pounds at the piano, listeners can follow McMahon's enticing story.
The lyrics on this album document Andrew McMahon's life after being diagnosed with leukemia. On "Caves," McMahon sings, "We're not gonna lie son/you just might die/Get you on that morphine/Drip, drip." Cancer is a large theme on the album, and there's a lot of reflection about his life-changing experience during diagnosis and after treatment. "I'm alive, and I don't need a witness/You know that I survived," McMahon wails in "The Resolution."
Everything in Transit was primarily about the end of McMahon's three-year relationship, and the album culminated from content that didn't mesh with the style of his other project, Something Corporate. When he was diagnosed with cancer, McMahon took a hiatus from touring and therefore had more time to reflect on the content of The Glass Passenger. His motive in this album seems to have an objective to help others through hard times, and with lyrics about beating cancer, it's not hard to forget your own problems and sympathize.
Although the album is effective and meaningful, it is very similar to the band's debut, Everything in Transit. A very distinct voice like Andrew McMahon's is sometimes a good thing, but on this disc, it distracts the listener from the rest of the music. The piano melodies also have the same type of feel, and the structure of songs is arranged similarly. If you liked the band's 2005 album, you will still like The Glass Passenger, but if you are looking for something fresh, this album is not for you.
Jack's Mannequin has still been through life-altering times, and let's face it: His lyrical content improved as a result. Andrew McMahon has found the formula for successful alternative/piano rock, but he takes no risk on The Glass Passenger. The album is enjoyable, catchy and talented, but by no means groundbreaking. Although this may please some, for adventurous music gormandizers, it will not satisfy.