Starting today (Thursday) I should start by doing a Throwback Thursday to albums that came out either 10 or 15 years ago this week. Now granted since I am off by a week I will be delaying some of these posts to space them out. Coming out a little more than ten years ago (add an extra week) we have the debut album from Andrew McMahon’s side project Jack’s Mannequin. The album entitled “Everything In Transit” wasn’t necessarily a commercial success but it remains one of not only my personal favorite records but still holds up to the test of time.
What makes this record stand out after all these years is a combination of the story behind it’s existence (the making of essentially) and the content of the music. What McMahon has always been able to do is craft piano laden punk pop music that is not only relevant to the period of which it came out but is still be listenable today. My point is that some bands make an album and ten years later you can’t listen to it because the band has changed it’s style or they don’t exist or it’s like hardcore screamo and its embarrassing to be listening to it.
Anyways, “Everything In Transit” was an album that came out at the right time for me personally. I was exploring new styles of music at the time and was really getting into the pop punk scene as well as the emo scene which featured bands like My Chemical Romance, AFI, Hawthorne Heights as well bands like Motion City Soundtrack and The Get Up Kids.
I had been a fan of Something Corporate as well, McMahon’s first band, so when I found out he had something new I went out and got a copy of it. The thing I want to point out is this, this was 2005, I had just finished high school, and oh yeah we really didn’t have internet in my house. That’s right, I went through high school using free 10 hour a month dial up connection with NetZero and AOL of which my sister would use. So it took me a bit to learn this.
Something Corporate was one of my favorite groups at the time and when I found out they broke up I was devastated. “Konstantine” was and probably will always be one of my favorite songs ever. McMahon blended pop with deep and meaningful lyrics. Whereas SoCo spoke to a high school me with it’s juvenile (by comparisons to his music now!) style now has become something that an angsty young adult could get into.
Every song on the album is flawless and a nice change in pace. Add in unique instruments like the horns on the opener “Holiday from Real” and mix in the nasally voice that McMahon presents and you get something that isn’t too far from the SoCo formula but is at the same time. With deep and meaningful lyrics McMahon crafted a song that not only could be a spring break anthem but a motto for a youth culture, that was growing up and moving to adulthood.
“Mixed Tape” was a heartfelt song that could be taken one of two ways, in the creepy i’m stalking you cause we broke up way or the way I take it, the sweet idea, the lyrics and insanely catchy piano laden instrumentation helped convey that message. “And this is my mixed tape for her/It’s like I wrote/Every note/With my own finger” he croons as the song comes to a slow finish.
“Bruised” is a little bit more of a down trodden track that fit in with my depressed self a little more than a year and a half if not closer to two years later. The song’s more synth/keyboard/piano sound worked well. With a chorus that remains catchy still to this day, something McMahon has managed to do consistently throughout his career moves slowly into the more upbeat and crazy uptempo tune “I’m Ready” in which he throws out the normal conventions of everyday life such as washing a t-shirt after every single individual use.
“La La Lie” is a song that I thought featured a lot of unintentional foreshadowing to the unfortunate situation that would befall McMahon two months prior to the release of the record. McMahon (if you don’t already know) was diagnosed with leukemia. Not only did that song feature what i though was the foreboding though (look at the lyrics) but the song was also a huge one for me and a few of my friends. With a chorus that goes “I’ve got friends who/Help me see through” the song’s positive message about always having someone even when you are so down in the dumps.
“Dark Blue” is my favorite song mixing a catchy chorus with more depressing lyrics but at the same time it featured a very catchy chorus but at the same time was upbeat and uplifting. “Kill the Messenger” and “Rescued” slow down the album but not in a bad way. When McMahon goes and does a ballad he does it as good as anyone else does. I totally forgot to mention the insanely catchy “Miss Delaney” that came before those songs. Of course we have the two album closers, the bonus track “Into the Airwaves” but the real closer is the ending eight minute long “MFEO: Made for Each Other” a sweet and moving ballad that invokes a sing along at live shows.
Of course this was ten years ago and the album still holds up, McMahon recovered and has established a strong rapport with his fans being not just humble and friendly but a down to earth guy. I’ve met and interacted with him twice, the first time when he came to Kutztown University to play a show as Jack’s Mannequin after he released “The Glass Passenger.” Not only did I meet him but I conducted an interview with him and he answered all of my questions. At the end he asked if I had anything to sign and I thought I did but I didn’t then he offered for a photo op. It would be years later that my lovely girlfriend and I would encounter him again The Chameleon Club in Lancaster after his first show as Andrew McMahon in The Wilderness. He signed multiple things for us (the tour guy said one but he insisted) and he took a picture with us. Unfortunately he didn’t remember meeting at Kutztown but hey it is what it is but at least he was nice about it. The funny thing about him being at Kutztown is right after the show on the rainy night he went to the local bar and got drunk with students.
Jack’s Mannequin would later release two more albums, The Glass Passenger and People & Things. He then went solo and released an EP entitled The Pop Underground and now as Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness his solo self titled album dropped last year, we ended up seeing him again in November of 2014. He’ll be touring with New Politics this fall and hit the new Philly venue, The Fillmore, in November of 2015.
Tune in next week where we dissect Death Cab for Cutie’s “Plans” which came out August 30th, 2005!