Sound — 10
From the moment I heard the first half of "The Mixed Tape," the debut single, I immediately knew that this was something special. You would think that Something Corporate frontman Andrew McMahon's solo project would be nothing but an emo duplicate of the 3 albums he's done with his band. But it's not. Yes, the piano still drives most of the songs, but there's quite a laid-back upbeatness to this emo. I wouldn't start to call most of these songs, with the exception of the touching track "Rescued" (which has the most heartbreaking piano/string combo I've probably ever heard), cookie-cutter emo ballads. Because they're certainly not. I would begin to call this powerpop, because to a certain extent, it is. The sucsession of piano keys on the amazing, and positively captivating track "Dark Blue," reminded me immediately of the opening to Vanessa Carlton's "White Houses." But that's where the comparisons stop. There's an untouchable aura of retro sound on this album, that one cannot begin to explain in great detail. You'll have to listen for yourself. What I love about this album, is the fact that Andrew didn't depend soely on piano to drive the songs. There are decent and memorable guitars. And with guest drummer Tommy Lee, the drums are on some tracks in perfect synch and possibly soul-mateish with the pianos. I'm sorry if this description is getting you confused, because no explanation can do it justice.
Lyrics — 10
The tagline for the CD is, "this is a story", and it is partially explained through the introduction to the JM official website, that most of the events in this CD actually happened. So taking faint cues from Coheed And Cambria and Green Day, though certainly not to the science-fiction or politically fuelled effect, he has created quite a decent storyline succession of deeply heartfelt and sincere songs that one would expect from the SoCo frontman. The lyrics fit into the tune of the song in almost every way. It was like I was listening to a puzzle that had already been put together. It just fit. There are a few inspirational and poetic lyrics that were a little Switchfooty to me, like on "Miss Delaney" - "In no time there'll be one less sad robot/ooking for a chance to be/something more than just metal." But the lyric that caught me the most was the lyric at the beginning of "Kill The Messenger," that makes you want to keep listening at the first croon of,"Oh my god/this hurts like hell." The lyrics aren't of your typical rhymey-catchychorus-singalong type, which is good, because I wouldn't have it any other way.
Overall Impression — 10
Personally, I love Something Corporate, but Jack's Mannequin clearly blew all of my previous opinions of SoCo out of the water. I didn't expect such genius out of a simple solo CD. It is definitely worth buying, and worth buying for your friends aswell. Not one friend that I've shared this CD with has had a negative opinion about it. The definitive ballad for me would have to be "Rescued," and my advice is to bypass the first half of "MFEO/YCB" and head straight into the 2nd song (oddly enough, on the same track), "You Can Breathe." It caught me from the introduction(like most of the songs), and is just there are no words. My prediction is that most people will probably choose the memorable, and catchy, "Kill The Messenger." It's probably the most heartfelt-sounding song on the album, and is definitely worth a listen to.