Review Summary: Andrew McMahon's first solo effort makes a few tweaks to the Jack's Mannequin formula, but it's packed with the same kind of sunny pop-rock fans have grown to love.
Pop-rock musician Andrew McMahon has been putting all his blood, sweat, and tears into his musical projects for well over a decade. From his first pop-punk band Something Corporate, to his more ambitious Jack’s Mannequin, he has toured the world extensively. This is enough to take its toll on anybody, let alone somebody who has suffered through and survived Leukemia at such a young age. However, despite the fact that so much hard work could exhaust his musical inspirations, McMahon sounds as passionate as ever on his first solo effort entitled The Pop Underground.
Although this time around McMahon’s music is backed by the delicate use of electronics, it’s not as much of a departure from his previous works as one might expect. The opening track ‘Synesthesia’ sounds like something that would have fit nicely on Jack Mannequin’s last album, People and Things.
The subtle use of synths help add flavor to the song, but it’s still the same kind of sunshine-filled pop we have come to expect from McMahon. With only 4 tracks crammed into the EP, the remaining tunes can’t quite stack up to the opener, but ‘After The Fire’ comes pretty damn close. It’s sure to become a fan favorite with its upbeat piano and sing-a-long chorus.
The other two songs take more time to digest, but due to the outstanding lyrics they aren’t any less rewarding. ‘Learn to Dance’ hits hard emotionally as McMahon sings powerful lines such as “I see the eyes of my unborn children, and I’m filled with the love I will give them.” It’s this kind of honesty that makes McMahon such a fantastic songwriter. Whether you have kids or not, it’s hard not to appreciate his sincerity. He just has a way of really connecting with his listeners through his songs, and thankfully this EP is no exception. Many musicians in his shoes would break under the pressure, but The Pop Underground
proves that Andrew McMahon isn’t planning on dying down anytime soon.