Sound — 7
Andrew McMahon was faced with a formidable task in assembling his new album The Glass Passenger when taking into account the wild success of his previous album Everything In Transit. Yet, The Glass Passenger does not necessarily try to recreate that same formula for success found in Transit, with it's light fun LA themed songs and anthems for the City by the Sea. Glass Passenger is dark journey of self-examination of the pain and turmoil McMahon experienced after his struggle to over-come cancer. The first six songs of the album, with the possible exception of the track "What Gets You Off", are all somewhat tepid songs which do not deliver much punch or power. Not to say that the lyrics are half-hearted or inscincere, but simply, I do not feel these songs are to the same standard as the second half of the album. In this second half, we have the following great tracks; "The Resolution", a instant hook-laden crowd pleaser; "Orphan", a beautiful piano-powered dingly-bell accompanied ballad that builds from a soft whisper to a grand chorus; "Drop Out", another hit with a heart-grinding chorus that makes you want to smile and cry all at the same time; and the sweet love-song "Hammers and Strings", a simple and emotive piano-driven serenade that does indeed "Lullaby" as it intends to. Overall, the sound of Glass Passenger was fun yet also introspective. The second half of the album makes up for the more lukewarm introduction this album delivers. However, one can expect that an darker album focusing on serious issues of death and disease rather than a fun drive down to Huntington Beach might be harder to make into a instant crowd pleasing album.
Lyrics — 9
As mentioned above, the overall theme of this album is McMahon's battle with overcoming cancer, while also dealing with issues of love (Hammers and Strings), longing for loved ones (Orphan), and heart-break (American Love). These lyrics are of equal quality as they are for Everything In Transit. McMahon's ability to craft elegent unions of music and words consistently exceeds that of his contemporaries in this genre and has lost no momentum in this sophmore album. McMahon has a brilliant ability to paint such elabourate visual imagery with such lines as "I need light in the dark as I search for the resolution" from the track "The Resolution" and the line "To the sleepless, this is my reply/ I will write you a lullaby" from the track "Hammers and Strings".
Overall Impression — 7
Although a bit more somber with several introspective piano driven ballads, Glass Passenger is the same power-pop hook-laden sound found in his previous album. However, the consistency of powerful soul-grabbing songs (Mixed Tape, MFEO, Dark Blue, etc) found on Transit is absent in Glass Passenger. I would say track The Resolution is the one track that really builds to the levels I was expecting going into this listening experience. That is not to say there are not a few quality soul-grabbing songs on here, it is simply that they did not strike me as often as they did during my first listening to Transit. However, I believe this album scores well above most other albums being released presently in this pop-punk genre. It is clear when listening the amount of time and effort spent on crafting every aspect of this album, from every tiny synthesizer flourish to the sentimental lyrics. My favourite songs from this album I would recommend to a first listener are "Orphan", for the raw feelings it is able to elicit from me, and also the track "Drop Out", which gives me that same inexplicable feeling in my heart after I heard Everything In Transit for the first time.