Sound — 10
Jack's Mannequin is a side project of Andrew McMahon, who is already famous with his band Something Corporate. Adorable McMahon, whom MTV called "the good-looking, shaggy-haired, thick-framed-glasses-wearing frontman," decided to take a break from a band with which he's practically lived for the last four years and launch a solo project, releasing a debut album "Everything In Transit" last week. Working on the album, he listened to a lot of Beatles, Beach Boys, Tom Petty and Bob Dylon and that inspired him to make the record "a little more laid back" than Something Corporate. As frontman sees the record himself -- "It's a very pop record - the Beach Boys with my voice, in a sense." Besides McMahon, who brought his signature piano and distinctive tenor to the project, Jack Mannequin also includes Bobby (Raw) Anderson on guitar, and Patrick Warren (who's worked with Fiona Apple, Macy Gray and Jon Brion) with organ, strings and arrangements. Plus Motley Crue's Tommy Lee on drums to complete samples by CJ Eiriksson. "Everything In Transit" was produced by McMahon and Jim Wirt, Something Corporate's producer. Most of the songs on "Everything In Transit" are strongly piano-centered and has a lot of guitar interludes, reminding us how awesome rock may sound with an addition of beautiful piano melodies. The idea of having a rock drummer like Tommy Lee in this kind of a band may seem weird. Even when I knew who the drumman is, I still couldn't associate him with that record. The drumwork is almost unnoticeable under the layers of piano and guitars, but as you start paying attention to it, you realize how pretty damn good the drums sound here. This type of music doesn't necessarily need a very good drummer and smashing drums that Lee provides, but I must admit the drums here make a very strong base that drives through the entire album. Perfect job. The more you listen to the album, the more you differentiate the layers of different instruments and realize the author's genius. The record itself is a highly personal storybook, consisting of Andrew McMahon's autobiographical songs. The first song "Holiday From Real" starts with the words "She says I'm much too thin\She asks me if I'm sick." Being written long before he knew about his leukemia diagnosis, they turned out to be the prediction of his illness. The song brings a bohemian California mood, which draws a picture in your mind ?- driving down the streets in LA, feeling a warm summer breeze, without a single thought. The best part of the song is "F--k yeah," which sounds almost like famous curse. "Mixed Tape," which is the first single from the album, starts with a dirty guitar, playing punk-flavored riffs. The chorus is anthemic and catchy. "Bruised," being one of the most personal song on the album, is my favorite song here. The words are fit to music so good that you live through the author's emotional experience with him. When it comes to the chorus, it makes you want to scream or at least sing along. A kicking drum line, almost like techno, gives the song a drive on, while everything else -? strings, leisurely piano is laid back and mellow. Terrific combination. Another song that I really liked -? "Into The Airwaves" -? it goes from hush to huge, accomplished by piano passages.
Lyrics — 10
Something Corporate was famous for it's intelligent lyrics. McMahon brought that feature to a new project and his phenomenon meaningful lyrics take the songs to a different level. The album is full of beautiful analogies, like "I am slipping through, I am slipping into the airwaves/You are slipping through my fingers and into the airwaves" in "Into The Airwaves." The themes are spirited with life emotional experiences. Even if it's a song about a loved one, something you've heard about a thousand time, it's said in the whole different manner and McMahon sings it so passionately and heartfelt, that it sounds like your inner voice. My favorite line is "I swim across an ocean/It's my mattress in the basement/I'm sweatin' out excuses/That would make your stomach turn." Doesn't have anything to do with your favorite one though, as everybody would find something different for him/herself here.
Overall Impression — 10
The whole album is a story of Andrew McMahon coming back to his hometown after a long trip he's been to with Something Corporate. Each song is about an emotional experience and, as they all are very well-crafted, each one of them creates a set of vivid pictures and moods in your head. The album's emotional duality changes the mood of the songs from melancholic to agony, mostly even within one track. Every each one is like a little story, that leaves a footstep in you. As all the songs are very personal, everybody would have their own favorites on the album. There are a couple of spoken word interludes on the album. One of them is "When did society decide that we had to change/And wash a tee shirt after every individual use:/If it's not dirty, I'm gonna wear it." Hahaha, that one made me laugh. I remember the expression of my ex-boyfriend's face when he saw me in the same t-shirt, that wasn't washed, for the third time. He could hardly understand, how you can wear the same clothes twice, I'm not even talking about three times! Well, if you're sweating like a horse, washing your t-shirt even day is a way out for you. Not me. If it's not dirty, I'm gonna wear it. Cool, I like it. There's also a "goodbye note" from McMahon -? you can hear it after the 7-minute MFEO. A nice touch, but it starts to bug you when you hear the same words said with the same expression for 9th time, especially that "It's been... interesting." To conclude, I want to say that the album has three ingredients that are for a good album -? very well-crafted music, intelligent lyrics with sense and emotions. Plus it's very well put together.