New Jack’s Mannequin album heals
Since 2005’s “Everything In Transit,” Jack’s Mannequin front man Andrew McMahon has experienced love, loss and personal struggle. With the band’s new album “People and Things” the musician brings back the more upbeat tempo of the first album, but with less heart.
The album opens strong with “My Racing Thoughts,” a piano-heavy song that is typical of the band. While not the most inventive or original McMahon has written, it is sure to be a fan favorite due to its catchy, likable sound.
The album has several points where McMahon explores his own personal emotional depth. In 2005, the musician battled Leukemia, a battle he almost lost. In “Release Me” he sings “I’ve been battered, been broken, been buried/ Now I’m death proof, death proof.” Drawing from his personal experience, the track is less heart-wrenching than tracks on the 2008 album “The Glass Passenger” like “Caves” where he belts “Beat my body like a ragdoll/sticking needles in my hips/ We’re not gonna lie, son you just might die.” Instead this track seems to suggest his coming to terms with his disease and putting it in the past.
“Amy, I” is the album’s love song, though not in the traditional sense due to exploration of themes like longing and loss. It is also the freshest-sounding track on an album that has a tendency to sound like a revamped version of earlier albums.
“Hey Hey Hey, We’re all Gunna Die” will sound familiar to anyone who has seen the band perform live in the past year. As the title suggests, the song’s primary focus is on McMahon’s own near encounter with death and directly mentions “The Glass Passenger,” the album most closely tied to McMahon’s battle with cancer.
“Restless Dream” is a new take on the typical Jack’s song. The track, while beautifully crafted, heavily features finger-picking guitar that seems more reminiscent of performers like Bon Iver. It would have been nice to hear McMahon demonstrate his skill on the piano instead, one which he so energetically plays on stage. The track is the slowest and most poignant of the songs, but for those who were hoping for a “Hammers and Strings”-esque piano lullaby, this track is sure to disappoint.
The album closes with “Casting Lines,” both inspiring and personal, it gives listeners something lasting to come away with at the end of the album.
Fans can look at the three Jack’s albums in stages: happiness, pain and healing. However, “People and Things” lacks the growth shown between “Everything in Transit” and “The Glass Passenger.”
Eleven short films have been made to accompany the album and were presented at a sold out in-theater premier event in New York City on Tuesday to coincide with the album’s release. Watch them on the band’s Youtube channel, jacksmannequintv.
Alyana Alfaro can be reached at alyana.alfaro @ student.shu.edu