Jack's Mannequin - The Glass Passenger
Record Label: Sire Records
Release Date: September 30, 2008
There have always been songwriters who have defined generations. Bob Dylan, John Lennon, Kurt Cobain – and although 25 year old Andrew McMahon may not be as famous as these legends, he’s been the voice of an underground generation for almost a decade.
As front man of Jack’s Mannequin, a band that made much of youthful America fall in love with pianos with the band’s 2005 release of Everything In Transit, McMahon has aged a few years since that release, and with a few more uber-important years of wisdom under his belt, his newest venture with the band proves to be everything but adolescent. Indeed, the fourteen tracks exhibit a different songwriter, one who has taken cues from the likes of Fleetwood Mac and The Beach Boys in creating a record that feels much smoother and more mature and appropriately like a warm California sunrise.
“Crashin” is introduced by a frolicking guitar melody and straightforward drum beat as McMahon smoothly sings “I wanna hear some music/Now that they’re driving us all underground”. Much less decorated in scope and musicality, “Crashin” and “Spinning” produce a blended, cohesive sound, complete with harmonized background vocals from guitarist Bobby Anderson that sound velvety and calm. “Spinning” is immediately catchy with quick verses and a chorus with vocals that replace McMahon’s soft and shaky cantor with a dynamic confidence. “Swim”, mimicking the sounds of open water with its electronic percussion and sliding piano melodies, grabs the listener by the heartstrings as gently as the piano hammers hit the their respective strings.
“What Gets You Off”, however, manifests a McMahon of the Everything In Transit era, with teetering, entranced vocals and a sort of desperation missing from much of the rest of the album. McMahon, however, is as much a lyricist as a composer, singing “No one should let you go wandering off into the night/ You’re not an orphan” on “Orphans”, a preamble to the operatic “Caves,” boasting a slightly magnificent and tipsy piano melody, nearly painting a picture of a couple dancing alone in evening clothes on a huge ballroom dance floor. An elemental change of dynamics seems to take place on this second half of the record as opposed to the beginning, as evidenced by the former and “Hammers and Strings (A Lullaby)” singing “I used to hear you in this old piano”, a ballad inside and out as it is driven heavily by a triumphant piano and beautiful vocals as opposed to the more prominent straight-forward feel of the bulk of the record.
As divine as the slower more graceful songs are, “The Resolution” is the heart and soul of the record. Full of energy, you’ll be singing “And you hold me downnnn!” awkwardly under your breath all day before finally giving up and singing full-breathed. “Bloodshot”, an outlier that’s ornamented with reggae-influenced guitar and handclaps, is as much a rock song as “The Resolution.” But songs like the slowly psychedelic “Annie Use Your Telescope” present the fact that this isn’t just a rock record, it’s a pop record, and a good one at that.
Andrew McMahon is a dreamer. His success in the past has proven he’s both a songwriter and a catalyst, but one all the more prone to the inevitable growth and change of the times as a crystal that slowly develops as time and pressure increase its molecular structure. But both processes produce something beautiful and I dare say timeless, as the songs McMahon has created have the chance to ring in the hearts and minds of the younger generation for years to come, regardless of age, regardless of time, and regardless of the pressure it may take to make break the glass and let the passenger off the bus to slowly walk home down the beach to the Santa Monica Pier.
I know I'm going to cherish this album for years to come. I built up this image in my mind thinking he would top the last cd - he didn't disappoint.
American Love is certainly a favourite of mine, but the first 3 songs are already growing on me majorly.
on my first listen i didn't think it was better than everything in transit but i have since changed my mind drastically. this album has become a staple in my daily listening and ranks highly in my favourite albums.
The only songs worth listening to are American Love and Miss California....such a disappointing album in my opinion.
Try this. Put the album away for a month or so and don't listen to anything by them. Then go back after that month and listen to the album from start to finish with your eyes closed.
I really liked it at first, but I was kind of disappointed in thinking he hadn't topped EIT. I didn't listen to it for a while, then went back a couple days ago and listened to the whole thing.
Now, I can safely say it's my AOTY. So so so so good.