On August 23, ten years ago, Jack’s Mannequin released their debut album, “Everything In Transit.” The album began as a side project for writer/composer Andrew McMahon who was previously the front man of pop punk band Something Corporate and recently has worked on his project “Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness.”
“Everything In Transit” is a concept album in which McMahon crafts a narrative tale of his experience of coming home after spending seven years playing and touring with Something Corporate, a band he started while in high school. McMahon began to pen the music that became Jack’s Mannequin when he was only 21 years old. Thematically, McMahon’s age is apparent in the subjects he sings about — young love and its associated anxieties, drugs and nostalgic reflecting on returning home a changed man when home itself has not changed. In sum, he sings of an idealized reluctance to grow up. Lyrically and melodically, the entire album has a dreamy quality that is captured perfectly by the cartoonish southern California beach boardwalk scene on the album cover. McMahon’s words create a visual masterpiece in the mind of the listener.
2005 was a great year for alternative rock tinged with emotion and a hint of punk. On some level, “Everything In Transit” readily compares to some of the better-known efforts of 2005, including Fall Out Boy’s second album “From Under The Cork Tree,” Panic! At The Disco’s first album “A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out,” Death Cab For Cutie’s fifth album “Plans” and The Academy Is…’s first album, “Almost Here.”
Perhaps what sets “Everything In Transit” apart from other releases of 2005 is McMahon’s self awareness and honesty in crafting his songs, both verbally and melodically. “Everything In Transit” plays like a diary; its honesty resonates deeply to those who were teenagers in 2005. As this cohort ages, the lyrics can be read on new levels, as the literal becomes more metaphorical. McMahon takes listeners on a dynamic journey from sunny, warm and carefree hopefulness, to bleak, paralyzing hopelessness, and then back to catchy, blissful, hopefulness.
“Everything In Transit” is far more reliant on McMahon’s driving piano riffs. He seems to pull more from true rock than his contemporaries. Additionally, McMahon takes ambitious risks on the album by incorporating sounds of ocean tides and seagulls that harken back to life in his native southern California. He even integrates his own spoken words on certain tracks. These quirks make for a special treat and allow listeners to get a glimpse into the mind of Andrew McMahon.
One occurrence that sets “Everything In Transit” apart from other albums of 2005 is the unknowing foreshadowing that the album contains. On certain tracks, and to differing capacities, McMahon sings of being sick, of ambulances, of hospitals and of slowing down. In a puzzling twist of events, on the same day McMahon finished mastering the last song for the album he received a call from his doctor with the diagnosis of leukemia. The same day “Everything In Transit” was released, 10 years ago, was the same day McMahon underwent an surgery to receive a bone marrow transplant from his sister. A second bizarre foreshadowing occurance, the namesake of the band is one of McMahon’s friend’s younger brothers who suffered through childhood leukemia. McMahon had recently begun to carry around a video camera with him, and after his diagnosis he decided to flip the camera around to capture the process and his experience with illness. This footage was compiled into a documentary entitled “Dear Jack.” McMahon has set up the Dear Jack Foundation, to support adolescents and young adults diagnosed with cancer.
To celebrate the tenth anniversary of “Everything In Transit” you can listen to the album, support the band by purchasing the vinyl reissue, or make a donation to the Dear Jack Foundation. Even though Jack’s Mannequin officially disbanded in 2012 and no official statement has been made yet, it is rumored that Jack’s Mannequin is planning a tenth anniversary tour for later in the year.