Jack’s Mannequin released their third studio album on October 4th, 2011. Titled People and Things, the band’s third album follows Everything in Transit, and The Glass Passenger, which peaked at number eight on the Billboard 200. Lead singer Andrew McMahon explains the album:
“I consider ‘People and Things’ a relationship record. My goal with many of the songs was to strip away the flowery language and sentiment attached to newer love and replace it with starker, less blinded language about more binding love. In the time following the last Jack’s album the people in my world were moving in together, getting married, trying to find quote unquote ‘real jobs’ and reconciling new lives that looked a lot less like youth than some of us cared for. Marriage is a bit of a beast to tackle in a pop record but when I wrote ‘My Racing Thoughts,’ it became clear how powerful and loaded a subject this kind of love is and somewhere in that moment I began to lock into the broad concept for the writing sessions to come.”
Here’s a unique album trailer on YouTube, definitely worth checking out!
Now for a song by song breakdown. Be sure to share your favorites.
1. “My Racing Thoughts“ The debut single off the new album, “My Racing Thoughts” features a beautifully simple piano melody, but is actually somewhat average for the album’s debut single. Nothing really stands out about the track beyond the piano melody. 6/10
2. “Release Me“ starts off with a great intro that really defines what “piano rock” is all about, and was the standout track the first time I listened through the album. The guitar work in the background around the 2:45 mark is simply stellar. The harmony that closes the track is a great touch. Standout track! 8/10
3. “Television” immediately made me thing of U2. I imagine it is somewhat intentional, but I’m reminded of “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For,” a #1 hit on the music charts U2 released in 1987. Now it doesn’t sound at all like the Disturbed cover of “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For,” which is pretty fantastic. “Television” for what it lacks in uniqueness is a very solid song that most people should enjoy. 6.5/10
4. “Amy, I” is one of three songs on the album in which Matt Thiessen of Relient K contributed. The song gradually works its way into a chorus where McMahon uses nature imagery to explain a relationship, some pretty interesting lyrics:
Another long winter trying to fight this freeze
Waiting but the cold’s got a hold on me
Hold on to me
So hold on to me
I never felt this kind of cold before
A very good song with well done lyrics and nice guitar work.
5. “Hey Hey Hey (We’re All Gonna Die)” starts off with McMahon belching out slow lyrics in front of piano and violin, making an effort to sound epic, but coming up short. The vocal delivery wasn’t my cup of tea. 4.5/10
6. “People, Running” has a very Jack’s Mannequin sound to it. It seems to be about the minuteness of our lives, but is a little boring until the 2:37 mark when the pace picks up, hitting it’s highlight at the 2:52 mark with some nifty guitar work. Rarely is guitar the highlight of a Jack’s Mannequin song. Unsurprisingly, there’s a nice piano hook that will get the tune stuck in your head. 6/10
7. “Amelia Jean” is a s nice smooth song that is great for what it is. It doesn’t stand out, and you won’t immediately search this track out on the CD, but when it comes on you’ll always enjoy it without realizing how much. It was actually originally written for the previous album, The Glass Passenger. 7/10
8. “Platform Fire” has some “stodgy” vocals that didn’t work for me. The piano work is nice throughout and the guitar work at the 2:20 mark stands out. 6.5/10
9. “Hostage” is one of the more interesting songs on the album. It’s about those people in your life who you may not see for a while, but you immediately connect when you see them, regardless of how long it’s been. It’s a “banner track” on the album. There are great videos on YouTube with McMahon explaining each song. They’re worth checking out. 7.5/10
10. “Restless Dream” is a nice attempt at a soothing acoustic ballad, but it ends up being boring and the weakest song on the album. 4/10
11. “Casting Lines” was originally written for a television show, but when it wasn’t selected for the show the demo was re-recorded for People and Things. It’s about being part of family, and (in my opinion) how family is always there for you regardless of the path you take through life. While the lyrics are pretty cool, the music is a little bland in parts. 6.5/10
People and Things, overall the album is solid, but not quite as good as The Glass Passenger, and definitely not as good Everything in Transit. Many of the tracks lacked intensity and a catchy hook, but a few stood out–”Release Me,” “Hostage,” and “Amy I.” The overall album gets a 6.5/10
These ratings would probably drastically change if I listened for a few more weeks and really came to appreciate them before writing the review, especially since the lyrics seem pretty deep and may take a while to understand. I’ll try to resist going back and editing, as I just did to my past review of “I’m With You” from the Red Hot Chili Peppers, which deserved more than the 7.5 I originally gave it. There as some bonus tracks as well, but I’ll leave those for you to discover. I hope you liked the review and enjoy the album. If you’d like the album for yourself, check out this blog.
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