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Music Review: Jack’s Mannequin – The Glass Passenger

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The world would be a better place if everyone were a little more honest; honest like Andrew McMahon, front man for the piano rock band Jack’s Mannequin. Released by Sire Records in September of 2008, The Glass Passenger is the perfect combination of raw truth and colorful piano rock.

Come prepared, however, with a box of tissues or a notepad because there are several side effects that come with listening to this remarkable album. Point one: you should know that McMahon, 27, is a recent Leukemia survivor and the album paints a picture of the grueling struggle he has endured over the past several years. Point two: if you’re not already on your way to the Red Cross to donate blood, know that you will be playing the first single, “Resolution,” on repeat while you re-write your own life goals. McMahon’s mix of pop punk and beautiful ballads will leave you nothing less than inspired on the band’s successful second album.

Fans of piano-influenced bands, such as The Fray and Augustana or even punk rock such as Taking Back Sunday, may well recognize McMahon as the front man from Something Corporate, a piano rock band from Orange County. Jack’s Mannequin was created initially as a private side project but eventually evolved into the debut album, Everything in Transit. It was only months before this album was released that McMahon was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia and then received a life saving bone marrow transplant on the very day of the album’s release.

The combination of visual melodies and McMahon’ youthful voice sent The Glass Passenger soaring past the cliché of the “second album slump.” With lyrics such as “You’ve gotta swim/Swim for the music that saves you when you’re not so sure you’ll survive,” the second single, “Swim,” will haunt you to your core.

Despite mild language and a few sexual references, this album appeals to a large audience. Teen listeners will appreciate the energy and “rockability” while still knowing that mom and dad won’t be upset with them for listening. The older audience will appreciate McMahon’s brave lyrics and more adult references in songs like, “What gets you off?

Perhaps the most noteworthy aspect behind the work of Jack’s Mannequin is McMahon’s ability to tell a story with his music. The first album is largely about a young man’s exploration of the fine line between what you earn in life and what you leave behind, and in many ways The Glass Passenger is a more mature continuation of that story. Despite the many accomplishments of McMahon at such a young age, his music remains extremely relatable. He is not afraid to put it all out there in his “Resolution” and sing, “There’s a lot that I don’t know. There’s a lot that I’m still learning.” It doesn’t get much more honest then that.

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