Andrew McMahon – Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness | Album review

Former Jack’s Mannequin’s and, before that, former Something Corporate’s Andrew McMahon makes his awaited comeback on the music scene with yet another moniker for his new album Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness. The musician is getting close to finding himself but apparently he’s still searching, still in transit – as one of his previous records said a few years ago.

McMahon came to prominence with his first band on the verge of the new millennium. In time, he consistently changed bands as well as his music style while remaining true to his soul: his trademark lyrics and piano-driven songs were still recognisable through the various artistic directions taken along the way.

However it’s personal matters like fighting cancer, growing up and building up a family that have mainly influenced the composer. Not only his private life, his music has also been affected. The artist himself has declared he “wrote a pop record” thus making a statement on the newly undertaken path. McMahon wanted to distance himself from his previous work and find a new creative vein.

The result is Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness, which is made up of songs that are all equally radio-friendly. There are less guitar riffs, more catchy melodies and rhythms that appeal to a wider audience, tunes that more than often sound like hits from the 80s. Canyon Moon is a great opener with its clapping beat reminiscent of the latest OneRepublic material. Same story for the following track Cecilia and the Satellite, dedicated to Andrew’s newborn daughter, with its engaging choruses. Next is High Dive, which maintains the pace. Halfway through though, the album begins to divert dramatically towards the worst kind of pop: See Her On the Weekend is not only boring, its lyrics are probably the cheesiest McMahon has ever written, with the easiest rhyming couplets and common places. Black and White Movies and Driving Through a Dream are only interesting for their 80s-like sound. Halls and Maps For the Getaway at the end, however, enliven the mood again.

Overall the album is too self-referential, mostly dealing with the process of writing and recording said album and the consequences that have come from that. McMahon has cut loose from his past and it is always good to change and experiment but this time the outcome is partially a progression and partially a regression. As the musician is still in transit, let’s wait for his next move.

Verdict: •••

Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness was released on 14th October, for more information about Andrew McMahon and upcoming shows click here.

Watch an acoustic performance of Cecilia and the Satellite here.

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