Album Review: “People and Things” by Jack’s Mannequin

“People and Things” is Jack’s Mannequin’s third studio album, and though it received mostly favorable reviews and debuted at #9 on the Billboard Top 200 albums chart, I’m not crazy about it. For me, the debut record “Everything in Transit” is still the group’s pinnacle release.

In some ways, Jack’s Mannequin is sort of a one-trick pony, with a lot of their music all sounding very similar. This certainly applies to “People and Things”—something that stands out to me is the fact that none of the songs stand out in particular as can’t-miss singles. Some of the later tracks feel truly uninspired, as if they were merely written to fill up an album (and, ironically or not, one line from “My Racing Thoughts”, which was released as the lead single, is “I think I’m running short on inspiration”).

This is not to say that the whole album is bad. I’ve noticed a sort of arbitrary trend in lead singer/songwriter Andrew McMahon’s songs: When they are written about the women in his life (“Annie Use Your Telescope”, “There, There Katie”, the unnamed “you” from “The Mixed Tape”, etc) or about himself (“I’m Ready”, “The Resolution”, and one of my personal favorites, “Dear Jack”), the results are far more memorable and profound than other songs. I guess it makes sense. The same holds true for this album, where “Amy, I” and “Release Me” are probably my two favorite songs and “Amelia Jean” is worthy of a listen as well.

But other tracks fall flat, as McMahon drones on with hollow lyrics like “We are just these people running around/In search of water” and “Hey hey hey, we’re all gonna die/We’re all gonna die someday.” One of the songs I’m most conflicted about is “Hostage”, which has the familiar thrill of a good Jack’s Mannequin bridge and chorus, but whose verses are, frankly, dreadfully dull. Feel free to disagree with me, though:

Overall, I’m just disappointed that “People and Things” isn’t quite on par with earlier releases like “Everything in Transit” and “The Glass Passenger”. There are 4 or 5 tracks here that still make the album worth a listen, but the rest are fairly cookie-cutter and bland.  For now, I’ll just keep listening to older favorites like “Dear Jack” instead.

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~ by Marcus on 03/06/2012.

Come at me, bro.

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