A jump from the sound of Something Corporate‘s pop punk days to the music on lead singer Andrew McMahon’s new project Andrew McMahon In The Wilderness would seem like a jump if not for the three records in between under the moniker Jack’s Mannequin.
The pop melodies that sometimes venture into electro with the abundance of keyboards on this record aren’t much of a stretch from Jack’s Mannequin’s last record of power piano pop. If anything, McMahon underwent a much-needed refresh after he expanded on his wondrous record 2005’s Everything In Transit with the lesser-but-still-solids The Glass Passenger in 2008 and People And Things in 2011, which both stuck close to a sound that was beginning to get redone and dated. Along with the evolution of his sound, he pretty much goes all the way by including a personal rebranding, this time incorporating his real name with his professional name.
The guitars are replaced with keys and the drums take a central role on Andrew McMahon In The Wilderness, but what doesn’t change is his style of songwriting that holds on to youthful ideals with introspection and sometimes striking life lessons and realizations.
All Our Lives takes a classic storytelling approach of receiving advice from a person whose own experiences serve as guidance for how to be better. In the second verse, he acts as the giver of advice where he says the two mistakes he’s made are “running from the people who could love me best/and trying to fix a world that I can’t change.”
Black and White Movies asks the question many of us sometimes wonder about whether people from our past every think of us – “Do you ever rewind to the summer you knew me?” while Cecilia And The Satellite is an ode to his daughter as he sings about his own background leading up to his being protective of her, but not overbearing, using the great analogy, “I’m the satellite/and you’re the sky.”
The album is full of one-liners from his own experiences and thoughts and it’s almost unfortunate that they’re easily dismissible by music that doesn’t capture attention as well as the songs deserve. It’s not even as if there’s a disconnect between the lyrics and the music. The production on the record isn’t distracting, nor does it mask the lyrics, but the melodies aren’t as compelling as much of what Andrew has written before so while it’s clearly a pop album, it’s an album that takes time to get into.
Still, with everything as possible changed from his days as Jack’s Mannequin, it doesn’t make sense to compare Wilderness to any of his previous records as there is clearly an effort to differentiate this period from the previous one. Andrew McMahon In The Wilderness is the next chapter and one that continues to show his one ability to evolve, adapt and challenge.
1. Canyon Moon
2. Cecilia And The Satellite
3. High Dive
4. All Our Lives
5. See Her On The Weekend
6. Black And White Movies
7. Driving Through A Dream
9. Rainy Girl
10. Maps For The Getaway