Sunday, November 20, 2011

New Music Review: Jack’s Mannequin – “People and Things”



Andrew McMahon has been a part of my life for a long time. Much like Jimmy Eat World, I have a connection to his music that transcends simply enjoying the structure of songs. Something Corporate’s debut album and song “Konstantine” (truly an all-time great song) were high school staples. “North” was a college staple. Then McMahon battled leukemia in the aftermath of debut Jack’s Mannequin album “Everything in Transit” and dealt with it lyrically in “Glass Passenger”. McMahon’s struggle is one of the few celebrity afflictions that I have felt personally moved by.

In many ways this newest album, “People and Things”, is the album that begins to move past the leukemia battle lyrically. “Glass Passenger”, the best Jack’s Mannequin album, was heavy and dark though bolstered by hope. According to McMahon, this album is about relationships, which makes it very much like many other records in the world. Perhaps that’s why it comes off a little more generic and average. “People and Things” is unfortunately fine, but not special. There are good tracks and okay tracks, and not much better or worse.

“My Racing Thoughts” and "Release Me” give the album a strong start, and the tracks harken back well to the debut Jack’s Mannequin album, which a renewed energy at the foundation of the tracks. Other tracks like “People, Running” and “Platform Fire” are strong suits as well, with “Platform Fire” effectively bringing it down a notch. The album’s best track is the classic McMahon venture “Casting Lines”, which displays McMahon’s knack for thoughtful lyrics and melody.

Unfortunately, many tracks here are also filler, doomed to take up space on my iPod, but never be played. It’s a worthy add-on if you’re already a fan, but not the place to start if you’re working through the McMahon discography. In fact, of the five major albums McMahon has made, it’s the last place I’d start. Since there are still many good tracks, this is as much an insult to the album as it is a compliment to his entire discography.

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