Battle with cancer inspires brilliant album

Rachel Kaplan

Spending three years in the process of completing their long anticipated second album, Jack’s Mannequin has finally released The Glass Passenger, featuring 16 new tracks and two live versions of old songs, with darker sounds and vivid themes.

Just after Jack’s Mannequin, a solo project headed by Andrew McMahon of Something Corporate, released their first album, Everything in Transit, McMahon was diagnosed with acute lymphatic leukemia during a routine doctor visit. Jack’s Mannequin’s tour was indefinitely postponed while McMahon struggled through chemotherapy and a blood marrow transplant.

The three-year lull in between Everything in Transit released in 2005, and The Glass Passenger, released on September 30, was well worth the wait. The new album, which was delayed several times before release, takes a serious departure from the Southern California sound of Everything in Transit. In fact, the darker sounds are surprisingly reminiscent of Something Corporate’s North.

While the new songs are perhaps less catchy than Everything in Transit’s “The Mixed Tape” and “Dark Blue,” McMahon has grown in both his musical ability and depth as an artist.
All of the tracks on this album are unmistakably darker but include the same ingenious piano and synthesizer––perfectly exemplified in “Crashin’”––that has always set Jack’s Mannequin apart from other alternative bands.

Although McMahon said in an interview with AbsolutePunk that he doesn’t want The Glass Passenger to be “the cancer album,” it is obvious that he has drawn much of his inspiration from his battle with leukemia. In powerful songs like “The Revolution” he sings, “I’m alive/I don’t need a witness/to know that I survived.”

The harsh realities of his fight with the disease are also apparent as he sings, “It’s just so high/ and I’m so tired/ Come on, look me in my bloodshot eyes/ the clouds are all on fire.”

The Glass Passenger, though encompassing Andrew McMahon’s experience with leukemia, filled with Andrew McMahon’s experiences of leukemia, is primarily an uplifting album meant to inspire listeners through their darkest moments.

A few weeks before release, McMahon mentioned on his Web site, “This album is all about trying to get [listeners] through the day.” One of the most powerful albums to come out in years, The Glass Passenger not only gets you through the day; it leaves you with McMahon’s strength to survive the unsurvivable.