Andrew McMahon is a singer, songwriter and pianist. He’s had several projects before now, including Something Corporate, Jack’s Mannequin, solo work released under his own name and, most recently, an album released under the moniker Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness. The self-titled debut album of the newly created alt-rock act was released on October 14, 2014, originally led by its first single “Cecilia and the Satellite”.
McMahon took the moniker very seriously, setting off for a cabin in the wilderness where he spent the week before going home on weekends in order to spend time with his pregnant wife, which undoubtedly inspired the track “See Her On The Weekend.” This is an extremely personal album. In fact, “Cecilia and the Satellite” was influenced by his daughter’s birth. “Canyon Moon” is the story of a girl escaping Los Angeles, a reflection on McMahon’s own history with the city. The brutal honesty I’ve come to expect from McMahon’s other projects definitely shines through his solo work.
The album is full of surprises as well, with McMahon embracing an odd synthetic indie-pop-esque style that he hasn’t previously explored. This particular brand of sentimental pop would almost be heartwarming if it wasn’t cut with overwhelming melodies and intense crescendos that keep it too dynamic to settle for an adjective so trivial. Constantly evolving, McMahon’s work isn’t exactly polished but it’s definitely moving in a more modern direction.
It’s an incredibly optimistic album which isn’t something I’m used to when it comes to McMahon’s work, most of which reflects on his battle with cancer in his early 20s as well as the post-emo millennial concept of ‘the one who got away’. McMahon has always been extremely adept at connecting with fans on an emotional level and doesn’t disappoint. A steady gradient of emotion flows through the album, opening strong with tracks like “High Dive” and “Black And White Movies” and quietly ending with “Rainy Girl”, which holds an enormous amount of potential, dragging the listener through a dizzy haze of swelling vocals and string accompaniments.
The album falls a little flat, but shows an infinite amount of potential when it comes to McMahon’s ability to craft pop songs. It is a strong start to what could be one of his most successful projects ever.
Favorite Tracks: “Cecilia and the Satellite”, “Halls”, “All Our Lives”