lauren stern examines the new album from Jack’s Mannequin …
Finally, after three years of producing and recording, Jack’s Mannequin’s third full-length album, People And Things, has arrived — and it may just be singer Andrew McMahon’s best release yet. The album shows McMahon’s progression both as an artist and as a human being. According to McMahon, the process of creating this album had a good amount of turbulence and scrapping, but all fans of the band can agree that the end result is nothing but perfection.
Jack’s Mannequin started out as a side project for McMahon after his former band, Something Corporate, broke up in 2004. His only intention with this project was to create one concept album under the name, but to his surprise it wound up being something more. Jack’s Mannequin’s first release, 2005’s Everything On Transit, was highly successful. However, shortly before the album’s release, McMahon’s music career was inevitably put on hiatus when he was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. After his full recovery, McMahon released his emotions surrounding his illness with his sophomore release The Glass Passenger in 2008.
Now three years later, McMahon managed to combine the optimistic sound of Everything In Transit and the somber sound of Glass Passenger into one. The first song off the new album, “My Racing Thoughts,” exemplifies this combination as well as some of the tracks that follow “Release Me,” and “Amy, I,” for example. However, the most definitive track on the album is “Television,” which McMahon calls an “experiment track” he created with American Bang vocalist Jaren Johnston. The track has it’s own separate sound, a powerful track mainly because of its indestructible melodies. McMahon explains the song was inspired by his inability to sleep without the television on and framed it around the realer aspects of relationships.
Another defining track off the album is a song called “Platform Fire,” which McMahon first introduced at a live performance in 2009. The song is reminiscent to Glass Passenger single “Swim” in that part of it is about struggling and facing obstacles. However, in the track-by-track interview video, McMahon states that the song is centered around his experiences being a musician and related the theme to his inspiration from the tightrope walker in the 2008 movie Man On Wire. “Platform Fire” is a strong track mainly because of McMahon’s empowering vocals over a stunning underlying faint piano melody.
People And Things is the first album in the history of the band that doesn’t have a definitive storyline or theme, which is exactly what McMahon needed to do in order to thrive. What makes this album so powerful is that it’s honest, relatable, and simply well-crafted. McMahon really pushed the envelope with this album, taking his music to new heights, and hitting the peak of his career.