Andrew McMahon’s in the Wilderness Is A Great Listen

By Sarah Govis

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Andrew McMahon originally started in Something Corporate several years ago. Following this band was Jack’s Mannequin, a long-lasting project that disbanded last summer while McMahon battled cancer. Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness clearly expresses the difference between McMahon’s state of mind during his battle with cancer and during remission.

1. Canyon Moon

The first track stays true McMahon’s style from both his previous projects while still experimenting with pop and electronic influences. Many of the songs Jack’s Mannequin produced had pop influences, but still had very sad undertones. The tone of this is much more positive, which may be contributed to McMahon’s recovery. The song appears to be about moving on and not letting old problems bother you. It’s a relatively upbeat song, and a positive change from McMahon’s old projects.

2. Cecilia and the Satellite

The next track plays a lot more on the electronic influences and the background music is more noises than it is instruments. The electronic music works well, however, and the fact that they blend it with pop makes it much more bearable. The song is about McMahon’s first daughter, Cecilia, and understanding how to be a parent. Again, it’s a big change from Jack’s Mannequin’s songs that reflected mostly relationships and his battle with cancer.

3. High Dive

The third track is much sadder and heavier and is more reminiscent of Jack’s Mannequin tracks, more specifically the tracks from Everything in Transit, the album which mostly reflected McMahon’s time immediately after he received his cancer diagnosis. The song discusses flashbacks and an old relationship. It expresses his disappointment that one of his old girlfriends is  no longer with him.

4. All Our Lives

This is song is very reflective of Jack’s Mannequin’s “The Mixtape.” It’s nice in that it shows McMahon hasn’t wandered far from his roots, but he isn’t afraid of moving on and experimenting with new styles of music. The lyrics are beautifully written, and it’s clear that McMahon didn’t put half a heart into his new project.

5. See Her on the Weekend

The next song is very sad, as it explains his feelings prior to his daughter’s birth. He was scared of what her birth might bring and as a result, isolated himself a few weeks before his wife was due. The beat is a bit darker, but yet with his new electronic influences, he manages to still keep it upbeat.

6. Black and White Movies

The next song is again very sad, and it discusses spending time alone — this song may have also been from the period in which he isolated himself from his wife preceding his daughter’s birth. He spends his time alone, sitting around watching movies and reflecting on his life. This song is also reminiscent of his days in Jack’s Mannequin.

7. Driving Through a Dream

The next song is a bit softer and calmer, and is clearly about McMahon and his wife. It shows their relationship and how close their relationship is. It also discusses how fragile his wife is, and how he tries to help her through the more difficult times in her life. It’s a very sweet song, and much more personal than his older songs.

8. Halls

The next song is another sad song about a fight with his girlfriend prior to their marriage. They broke up, which left him broken. He can feel her everywhere, but he knows he must move on. Her echo is heard everywhere he goes. It is clear that he still loves her, but there’s nothing he can do about it.

9. Rainy Girl

This song is about a dreaming of a new girlfriend. He wants someone new to wash away all his sadness and bad memories. He wants someone to make him feel at home and safe. This is a clear deviation from Jack’s Mannequin in that he discussed wanting to escape his old girlfriend to battle his cancer alone.

10. Maps for the Getaway

The following song is very sad to end the album. He reflects on his life, and all the time he’s wasted. But he then brightens it up and shows that he must now live in the moment and stop wasting his time. He finally realizes how important and valuable life truly is.

In the end, I really liked this album. It’s very different from his old bands, but his old pop rock roots are still seen. He has changed, but in a good way that his old fans will definitely still enjoy. I adore his new album and the new sounds he experiments with. I’m still sad Jack’s Mannequin broke up, but Andrew McMahon still put out an amazing album.

4.5/5 Stars