For our first Mind the Gap. collaboration, we decided to do a track-by-track review of Jack’s Mannequin debut album, Everything in Transit! This is just one of many epic albums to turn ten years old this year, and since we’re both Andrew McMahon fans, it was pretty much a given that we’d be talking about this.
Warning: it’s one of our mutual favourite albums of all time, so expect a lot of gushing and favourite lyrics!
Holiday from Real
S: I love how the album opens with that single bass note and Andrew’s vocals. It sets the tone and you know right away what you’re in for. I can just imagine uneasy Something Corporate fans immediately feeling more relaxed when they heard his familiar voice coming through their speakers again. Also, those first lines are so haunting when you consider that Andrew was diagnosed with leukemia after the album was recorded.
Also, I really want someone to send me a postcard that says “Fuck yeah, we can live like this”. Any takers?
J: When I found out that this album came out before his diagnosis, it shocked me completely. There’s so much there that hints (and then blatantly speaks about) at illness that it was almost like a weird, horrible premonition come true.
But back to the music.
I love this song so much. It’s such a solid opener of what I can honestly say is one of my favourite albums of all time. That bass note sends me right back to 2006 when I first heard this album and how giddy I was when I got to see Jack’s in concert for the first time (of many, many times). I actually have a pin (somewhere in some drawer) that says “Fuck yeah, we can live like that.” I feel like that is also the first time I’ve heard you say (or read you say) fuck, Sam, and that makes me feel so much closer to you.
S: I think I have the same pin! And I’m so glad my swearing has brought us closer!
The Mixed Tape
S: This is such a jam! It’s powerful in many ways – both the lyrics and the actual pounding of the piano. I also just love that he’s talking about a mixed tape – that’s sooo early 2000’s! Nevertheless, it has an almost timeless quality to it so that you can still feel the same emotions singing it even if you’ve never made (or received) a mixed tape.
J: This was my very first Jack’s Mannequin song which spurred my Andrew McMahon obsession. Funnily enough, I had heard of Something Corporate but only by randomly Googling both bands did I realize that Andrew was in both of them.
I actually first heard this song off of the One Tree Hill soundtrack, so do with that information what you will.
This song is epic, it always makes me dance and instantly makes me happy.
S: This was the first Jack’s Mannequin song I ever heard (it was actually my first Andrew McMahon song!), and it remains one of my absolute favourites. I’ve been known to literally stop what I’m doing so that I can sing along (I had to pause writing this review!) and hearing it live makes me feel emotional. My favourite lyrics? “So read your books, but stay out late some nights, and don’t think that you can’t stop by the bar”. SO TRUE, ANDY.
J: I really like this song, and the intro is fucking inspired. It’s not my favourite off of the album but it is still a super great track.
S: I’m always sort of “meh” about the first half of this song, up until the “spoken word” part especially the line “my life has become a boring pop song and everyone’s singing along”. That’s not to say I don’t like it; I do, and I love how passionate he sounds in the chorus, but it’s probably not in my top ten favourite Jack’s songs.
J: I LOVE THIS SONG, ESPECIALLY LIVE. Everything about this song works for me. It amps me up, gets me excited and I definitely scream at the spoken word part (especially the “if it’s not dirty, I’m gonna [fucking] wear it” part). I feel like we have the exact opposite reactions to I’m Ready and Bruised which I find amazing.
S: Haha, that’s so crazy that we have opposite feelings!
La La Lie
S: This one, on the other hand, is SO SO GOOD. The intro, the crashing piano – it’s all so Jack’s Mannequin, and I love every second of it. Plus now, having seen Andrew live (in every incarnation), I can’t listen to this song without picturing him stomping all over his piano keys. Also, yay harmonica!!
J: THAT HARMONICA THOUGH. The stomping always gets to me, every performance is so passionate and wonderful.This song also sounds like it could be a sequel to Something Corporate’s The Astronaut (“the spaceman that can’t get high”) which is funny considering the SoCo connection to the next song.
S: Another one of my favourites. The chorus makes me want to whirl around a room until I collapse dizzily on the floor – still singing, of course. It has an almost majestic quality to it, and completely changed the way I looked at piano-based music.
J: I like that this song is technically the sequel to She Paints Me Blue by Something Corporate. This song takes me back to my ~emo days (God, what a word) and I can feel all my silly teenage emotions rush through me, like I’d never left high school (which, thank God, I have). The intro piano piece is so lovely and it honestly would spur me to take lessons just to learn how to play it.
S: I love how you connected these past two songs with SoCo songs! I never really thought about them that way, but yeah, it really makes sense (especially this one!).
S: Like “La La Lie”, this is a song that I can’t describe. I don’t know why I love it, but I do. And every time I have weird dreams, I automatically think of the line “it’s biblical how fucked my sleep can be”.
Fun fact: in high school, I had a friend who used to sing my name to the tune of this song (i.e. “Miss Devooottaaa”).
J: OMG, that is so cute, I love that. I’m actually going to start doing that, just so you know, because I have no original ideas of my own. Miss Delaney is actually my Skype name, so that tells you how much I fucking love this song.
Kill the Messenger
S: This is actually my least favourite song on the album. I had to force myself to listen to it while writing this review (after lowering the volume significantly) because I normally skip it and that didn’t seem fair. The energy levels seem to drop with this one and while Andrew sounds just as good as in all the other songs, I don’t feel anything in this song. It might have to do with placement – it’s hard to follow up on the threefold epicness that is “La La Lie”, “Dark Blue”, and “Miss Delaney” – but it does have some nice piano work.
J: I agree, this is probably the weakest song on the album. Still not a bad track in any way shape or form, but it just isn’t as grand as some of the other songs which hit so hard. I don’t have too much to say about it other than I agree with you.
S: I guess this is technically a ballad (is it? I’m not sure), but it’s not one of my favourites. Again, I think it’s because it’s not as energetic as the first half of the album. On the one hand, it makes sense that the album has to have a low (or “slow”) point, but while all the other songs feel like they have a purpose, this feels the closest to filler for me.
J: This song is so beautiful. We get a bit slower with this one, but the change in pace totally works. Andy totally melts my heartstrings with his mournful vocals
MFEO. Pt. 1 – Made for Each Other/Pt. 2 – You Can Breathe
S: The first time I heard this masterpiece, it had actually been split so for a long time, I thought they were two separate songs (until I bought the CD). It is, as I said, a masterpiece. I love the constrast between the parts, I love how it all ties in together, I love the callback to “The Mixed Tape” (“Where are you now?”) and I even love that it’s seven minutes long. It’s obviously not as epic as “Konstantine”, but it’s still solid. Though I prefer the first half to the second half, I wish the album had closed with this song. IT WAS PERFECT.
PS: How cute is Andrew’s mini message at the very end? “Until the next time...”
J: “It’s been… interesting.” I love MFEO, I think it’s super great. I also fully use it in text conversations to friends when we have the exact same thought at the exact same time. I think it’s cuter than saying we share a brain.
It is super strange that the song doesn’t end on this, especially since the tape LITERALLY runs out at the end. Tres bizarre.
Into the Airwaves
S: I’ve never understood why this is listed as a “bonus”, when it’s technically on every copy of the album (unless it’s not?), but if we can’t end with “MFEO Pt. 2”, then I guess this works. I think this one has a bit of a Something Corporate vibe (it makes me think of “I Woke Up in a Car”), so I do wonder when in the process it was written – was it one of the first, while he was making the transition?
J: You are DEAD right about it sounding like “I Woke Up in a Car,” I never realized that before. It is odd that this is the last track, but it is still incredibly strong. If MFEO didn’t have part two with the tape recording at the end, then the album would end perfectly.