The Glass Passenger
Thu, Oct 9, 2008 (midnight)
Former Something Corporate frontman Andrew McMahon may have survived leukemia, but don’t expect him to get all sentimental about it. If anything, his follow-up to Everything in Transit is less personal than its predecessor, the already sweeping, eternally uplifting piano-pop transforming into a veritable raised fist of epic keyboard flourishes.
For every allusion to doubts arising during his illness—“I’m alive, but I don’t need a witness/To know that I survived” in “The Resolution”; “Even if your voice comes back again/Maybe there’ll be no one listening/And even if you find the strength to stand/It doesn’t mean you won’t go missing” in “Crashin’”—there are twice as many lyrical love notes to Los Angeles. Even the slew of nature metaphors (the defiant “Swim,” the building, multi-part “Caves”) address universal themes of change and determination, as opposed to hospitals and hair loss.
The direction is at first surprising, yet McMahon’s side project-turned-full-time-gig has a history of disregarding expectations. Mold-breaking in its authenticity (no faux-punk posturing here) since its inception, Jack’s Mannequin boasts denser, more painstakingly crafted arrangements this time around, including a few scattered synths and a distinct hip-hop vibe underscoring the verses of “Bloodshot.” Forget introspective indulgence; this is intelligent, ever-maturing musicianship at its very best.