Context – guess who’s back? back again?
Jason’s back in the office. And Andrew McMahon is back with another project based around him. Well, he was back in 2014. I think he’s due for another effort later this year.
For those not in the know, Andrew McMahon has been crooning with his piano since the turn of the century, first with Something Corporate, then with Jack’s Mannequin, and now with himself in the Wilderness.
I always get confused with acts like this (I’m thinking Jack White, specifically)–if they are the primary song-writer and talent showcase, why all the different projects when they’re all boiling to the same stock? Especially considering when I saw Jack’s Mannequin in 2006ish, at least a quarter of his set was spent playing Something Corporate songs. A few years ago at RiotFest Andrew McMahon and the Wilderness was there, but I skipped their set because I didn’t know anything about his new project. A friend of mine went, though, and said he mostly played Something Corporate and Jack’s Mannequin songs.
So why the change in band? Especially because each iteration seems to pull him farther and farther away from what was exciting and electric about Something Corporate. That shit was fresh to death, and Jack’s Mannequin was fine, but not quite the same. I dig a bunch of Jack’s Mannequin songs, but the quality ratio is lower than that of Something Corporate’s.
And this project continues that trend. I like the single, “Cecelia and the Satellite”, it seemed like a return to “Dark Blue” form and gave me high hopes for this project. But the rest of the album just seems to be him chasing whatever intrinsic qualities make “Cecelia” a great song. Everything else falls kind of flat, it’s just generically poppy without being exciting or catchy enough to actually succeed as a pop record. It’s not interesting or urgent enough to be a rock record. It’s not complex or deep enough to be a folksy record. It’s just kind washed out piano music chasing that “Cecelia” high.
I’m all about allowing an artist to grow and change the way they make music, I’m just a little confused about the direction this project takes and why he felt the need to once again change names.