Jack’s Mannequin aims for mainstream play

Jack’s Mannequin
“The Glass Passenger”
3.5 out of 5 stars

This is the second LP from former Something Corporate frontman Andrew McMahon under the name Jack’s Mannequin, marking his first recorded work since he was diagnosed with acute lymphatic leukemia in 2006.

It’s no surprise his illness and rehabilitation are recurring themes on the album, replacing the jovial storytelling atmosphere that made “Everything in Transit” an enjoyable window into the bohemian Los Angeles lifestyle. But don’t think you’re in for a record of morose ballads about loss and death. “The Glass Passenger” contains some absolutely mammoth hooks, enough to rival rockers like “Punk Rock Princess” and “I Woke up in a Car.”

It’s impossible to deny the immediacy of this album. Although it’s debatable whether this album has enough energy to remain interesting through all 13 tracks, it’s clear McMahon has certainly upped the ante with this record. “The Glass Passenger” may well be this very deserving musician’s first true taste of mainstream appeal.

Key tracks: “The Resolution,” “Spinning,” “American Love”

Brian Wilson
“That Lucky Old Sun”
2 out of 5 stars

Brian Wilson’s solo career has never been particularly impressive. Even 2004’s “SMiLE,” the clear peak in his late career, was a reworking of an old Beach Boys project. With “That Lucky Old Sun,” a man who was once an innovator of pop songwriting has been reduced to revisiting the same material.

“That Lucky Old Sun” follows the same formula of Wilson’s past solo efforts. It’s a tribute to the sights, sounds and characters of Southern California, but offers no new vantage point. This is a tiresome rehashing from a man who appears to have exhausted his creativity.

This album is filled with one-dimensional emotions and juvenile rhyming – a far cry from the subtleties and insights of his writing as a Beach Boy. While others writers of Wilson’s time (such as Ray Davies) have succeeded in building a mature body of work in recent years, Wilson has chosen to write songs that even his younger self would admit as being flat.

The music leaves something to be desired, often bordering on self-parody with its orchestrations and harmonies painfully recalling his days of glory. It’s unfortunate to admit, but Wilson has become as washed up as a wiped-out surfer on those California beaches he always finds himself singing about.

Key Tracks: “California Role,” “Southern California”