February 3, 2012 by zdueck
Recently I began getting a little nostalgic and listening to some old music. The problem with this is that I always wind up wasting time looking up the bands on wikipedia instead of just listening to the music. So through my curiosity I found that Andrew McMahon started up a band called Jack’s Mannequin a couple years ago when he began writing music that he didn’t think fit with the style of his current band at the time (the band I started the day listening to), Something Corporate.
I used to love Something Corporate back in my punk days. They were a clean pop punk band that had this energy about them that was simply put, fun… Oh, and they had a piano. And an actual upright piano at that, not merely a keyboard (which I had quickly decided was the most punk way in which to rock the keys). But then he started writing music that he decided was not destined for Something Corporate and might be more at home in a solo release. It was right around this time that he was diagnosed with some form of leukemia and began writing more emotional music, which I instantly found to be way less fun than his other stuff (perhaps with good reason, but that sense of play was one of the things that attracted me to his music in the first place). I mean I suppose it is all a matter of preference but watch the two of them perform live and ask yourself “Which concert would I rather attend?” I’d pick Something Corporate anytime.
However, that being said, their most recent album has caught my attention. Not because they suddenly went back to being the good ol’ Andrew McMahon that I once knew (I’m pretty sure he’s gone forever) but rather because of their lyrics. They are still filled with just as much emotion as ever, but the types of emotions being conveyed throughout ‘People and Things’ are ones I don’t often hear in music. While these emotions are relational in nature, they are never emotions of intense love or justified hate or the typical extremes of the emotional scale. What this album attempts to do is explore the relationships that develop over periods of time, the type of relationship a long time lover or married couple may create. Or even that of a lifetime best friend. The relationships that require you to be vulnerable to another person and because of this creates a whole host of complications like reliance, monotony, fueling each other in both the good and the destructive ways until you reach a point where a release of sorts is almost a necessity. The experience of creating a relationship where you are invested in this person. Essentially the entire album focusses on the relationships we often take for granted because of how long we’ve been a part of them. It’s just interesting to hear this perspective and I’d like to hear more music written in such a way. None of this sappy new love or freshly dumped and filled with rage nonsense, just a good old song about that friend that will help you move at the drop of a hat because that’s what friends are for (even though he may secretly resent you, just a little, for making him help you carry that sofa up three flights of stairs).
Andrew McMahon talks about ‘Release Me’
So whether you’re a fan of piano driven rock or not (I’m still not sold on it as a whole), this album definitely has some worthwhile moments in it, and you wouldn’t be wasting your time if you gave it a listen. Lyrically it’s got some good things going on, and while that’s not all it takes to make a good album it’s a pretty good start. And the best part is that they released a music video for literally every song off the album when they released ‘People and Things’. So if you need a bit of a visual to go with your listening (or just want to check the entire album out before dropping a dime on it) you can treat each song like a short film and watch them all.