Review Summary: What would you do with a new lease on life?“You gotta swim
Swim for your life
Swim for the music
That saves you
When you're not so sure you'll survive”
Life is about second chances. For most this seems like just another cliché Hollywood tagline, but for Jack's Mannequin main man Andrew McMahon its the truth. McMahon was diagnosed with leukemia only three month's prior to the release of his Jack's Mannequin project's debut Everything in Transit
. Three years later and he has beaten the disease and has drawn off the reflections and hardships of facing one's mortality for the base inspiration of Jack Mannequin's newest release The Glass Passenger
“Just follow the horizon
I promise you it's not as far as you think“
If there is one thing that permeates The Glass Passenger
it is an resounding feeling of hope. Maybe its due to the circumstances under which the songs were written. Maybe its just that Andrew McMahon tapped into some vein of human emotion and just happened to find the right words to describe it. Either way, its uplifting to say the least. Even (most) of the songs with lyrics based on typical pop-rock clichés like broken hearts and separation come off as surprisingly personal. Thats not say that McMahon's lyrics don't occasionally falter. On American Love, though it's a catchy track and very well orchestrated, its chorus of “Big hearts are for breaking!” seems a bit hollow and forced compared to the other tracks that surround it. This is partly due to it following “Swim”, a song heavily derived from his perseverance in overcoming cancer.
“Currents will drag us away from our love
Just keep your head above“
While Andrew McMahon's lyrics are stronger than they've ever been, his singing occasionally falls short. A prime example is on the album's closer “Caves”. With the piano as the only accompaniment, McMahon ups the vibrato in his voice and roughly goes in and out of falsetto in a classic case of over-emoting gone bad. Thats not to say that his voice is bad throughout the album, but when he falls into the trap of over-emoting to try to match his lyrics its vaguely reminiscent of an hyperbolic Conor Oberst impersonation. Except instead of having Conor's endearing fragility, it ends up being a pitchy mess. This is exaggerated by the crystal clear production that gives him no place to hide in the mix. Fortunately this doesn't happen much and is only a minor annoyance, not a glaring blemish on the album.
With The Glass Passenger
McMahon and Co. have continued to create another solid album of Ben Folds' inspired piano-pop, but now with a newfound sense of maturity due to the 26 year old's trying last couple of years. While it is not the greatest pop album of the year, The Glass Passenger
provides an enjoyable and often intimate listen that fits almost any mood.