“I saw this woman with tears in her eyes
Driving beside me yesterday.
She turned her head then I turned mine
And I watched her drive away.

I thought ‘If I could tell her something I would tell her this
There’s only two mistakes that I have made.
It’s running from the people who could love me best
And trying to fix a world that I can’t change.’

All our lives
I watch you search beneath the falling skies
This was no path to glory
You always walk before me

But you came back to warn me
All our lives.”

~All Our Lives,
Andrew McMahon and the Wilderness, Andrew McMahon and the Wilderness

I’m more than a little late on the album from former Something Corporate/Jack’s Mannequin frontman Andrew McMahon, a record where he proves he is so much more than those bands and names that he has built his reputation on. For the sake of nostalgia, I don’t think I’ll love his newer work as much as I did his past records, but this is its own little shiny gem. It proves McMahon is the rare musician (in this age, anyway) who pursues his art regardless of expected structure, and worked his way onto the pop airwaves from the indie label on up.

I listened to it after hearing the “Cecelia and the Satellite ” single enough times on the radio. Almost every song has just as satisfying of a chorus, tons of piano and bells and little catchy melodies, and some very open-hearted lyrics, true to his form.It’s very clear-eyed and bright, even when in the midst of soul-searching in a less than perfect world. It’s not too happy, as introspection and mortality lurk around the edges, but sonically its sunny as hell without betraying his emo roots. I like how effortlessly it blends dance-pop, fist-bump beats with silky, soaring piano parts, like on “Black and White Movies,” there’s something both current and elegant about it.

I hope there’s critics who are smarter and savvier than me to parce through McMahon’s latest releases, his earliest recordings and channel what has happened in his not-easy life in parallel with what he has produced.  No doubt his illness, his relationships made him grow and change, thus thrusting his work in a new direction. But while many artists find the trials of life pull them away from their art and damage their potential reach and success (cause life is hard, even when it’s easy), McMahon did this wonderful thing where he *found* greater success through the journey. What an incredible story to tell, or to hear. 

“Are you home tonight?
Are you laying in bed watching black and white movies?
All alone tonight
Do you ever rewind to the summer you knew me?”

~Black and White Movies,  
Andrew McMahon and the Wilderness, Andrew McMahon and the Wilderness