During 2015, we’re going to be looking back on some of the best albums that were released 10 years ago and discussing their legacy. Feel free to share your thoughts and memories in the replies. Enjoy!
“My life has become a boring pop song and everyone is singing along”.
It’s hard to imagine Andrew McMahon these days without his destiny being intertwined with Everything in Transit, the debut of his first solo project, Jack’s Mannequin. It’s the crowning achievement of his musical career in almost every aspect. And it represents the darkest days of his life: the album’s final day of mixing was the day McMahon was diagnosed with leukemia.
The glory of Everything In Transit, at the time, felt overshadowed by the news of McMahon’s illness. As a fan, the shock of the news and the fear of losing one of the flag bearers of the early 2000’s emo scene felt unreal. It really was one of our first realizations that the artists we loved were mortal after all.
But much like McMahon himself, Jack’s Mannequin was by our sides the entire time. Everything In Transit is utter magic. Each song managed to top the one before it and grow even stronger with each new listen. Part of it may be the newfound freedom that McMahon felt after parting ways with Something Corporate or the progression of writing a concept album about a summer in California. Whatever the case, each song not only flows perfectly, each is just as memorable as anything before it. The fact that a solo effort outshined anything that he was previously known for in his prime band, especially a band like Something Corporate, is nothing short of miraculous.
For me, Everything in Transit signified the change from high school to the real world. All of my friends moved away, and this was the first album I played without anyone to share it with. Even when I got back in touch with people and tried to talk this record up, no one wanted to listen. For the first time, the people that had shared every album I had ever listened to didn’t care about music anymore.
That’s what makes Everything In Transit so special; it defies expectation and carves its own way. After the moody emo marathon of Something Corporate, no one expected McMahon to write the most upbeat power pop record of the decade (possibly an exaggeration). I didn’t expect that no one was willing to listen to it after spending years singing Something Corporate and New Found Glory songs with me. McMahon himself suddenly found himself in a world where leukemia became a dominant subject of his life for a brief time.
For such a pop heavy album, it starts with the cryptic lines of “She thinks I’m much to thin, she asks me if I’m sick”. However, the rest of “Holiday From Real” sets the album’s tone as an escape to something much better and much warmer. The seminal “Mixed Taped” is the single that any band wants in its arsenal. The sleepy guitar opener shifts without warning into a heavy jam before falling to a sweet piano driven chorus about creating a mixtape for someone special. “Where are you now? / As I’m swimming through the stereo, I’m writing you a symphony of sound / Where are you now?/ As I rearrange the songs again, this mix could burn a hole in anyone / But it was you I was thinking of”.
The pristine piano of “Dark Blue” is one of the key elements of the album, with such simple, utterly recognizable notes. The aspect of a love song and coming to terms with feeling alone under the guise of rushing waters reverberates so well with any listener, as Andrew sings, “I’ll swim (I’ll swim) as the water rises up / The sun is sinking down and now all I can see are the planets in a row / Suggesting it’s best that I slow down / This night’s a perfect share of dark blue”.
Everything In Transit can be praised line by line for years. What makes the album special is that it resonates with you no matter where you are in life. If things are good, it’s a feel good power pop masterpiece that you’ll instantly learn every lyric to. If things are bad, it’s there to comfort you through the darkness with the crazy exploits of being lost in California during the summer and pull you a bit closer to something you love. It’s there to share the good and bad and help you heal.
The warmth of the music is something that feels unique to this record, which is almost impossible to achieve, save for those few legendary albums that people talk about for decades. Ten years from now, even if Andrew McMahon is no longer a part of the music scene, I guarantee we’ll still be talking about Jack’s Mannequin and Everything In Transit and what it meant to us.
by Kyle Schultz
Kyle Schultz is the Senior Editor at It’s All Dead and has worked as a gaming journalist at Structure Gaming. He lives in Chicago and his second live concert ever was seeing Jack’s Mannequin play in Indianapolis. Rock on, piano monster god…..rock on.