Friday, October 19, 2007

The Singapore Soundtrack: Jack's Mannequin

I think it's the first time I went on a trip not carrying headphones - and admitting that music is an integral piece of every trip, it felt like I was travelling for a week with only 2 days' worth of underwear (ooh, bad analogy). It was also the first time I was travelling with friends - never really backpacked with a group before, but this trip was really all about becoming a tourist, and not a traveler.

Back to the music, who could resist HMV? Aside from the fact that it was just two doors away from the flat where I lived, it had racks and racks and racks of CDs that were screaming "Take! Me! Home!". Fortunately for my wallet and quickly depleting EQ, I brought a list. I had to pass on Frou Frou's and Jewel's debut albums (30 SGD each!), but brought home the double-disc retrospective of Garbage, and finally Dizzy Up The Girl by The Goo Goo Dolls.

However, the Singapore Soundtrack honors go to Jack's Mannequin - last year's discovery, thanks to One Tree Hill (there is some good coming from that show, I just realised). Their only album so far, Everything In Transit, is a breath of fresh air. Not the cliche type, but the one that makes you feel you're in a rush swimming and you run up the surface to gasp for air. The music is a persevering alchemy of piano-rock that continuously pounds you with its percussions and almost-spoken lyrics.

Everything in this album is great! Piano-punk at its most listenable.

Just as a background, Jack's Mannequin is fronted by Andrew McMahon, a leukemia survivor, and this was the first record after his recovery. If I was on the verge of dying, and miraculously banished my disease, I would not be singing the "praise-be" of gospel, nor moping away self-pity with an "I could've died" anthems. I'd probably be like this: a little chirpy - walking with a spring in my step, but a the same time, a little drugged, rabid and continually shouting phrases. Strange, I know, but give me a break.

I've talked about the single The Mixed Tape, as it was in the best songs of 2006, so I'll skip that one. There are a lot great singles in the album - McMahon writes lyrics as brilliant as Carraba from Dashboard Confessional, but less wounded. He talks about long distance relationships, a destined love, and weeping alone. MY favorite has got to be "I'm Ready", a spirited morning song, laced with spoken dialogue. Imagine a bunch of lyrics just flying out, someone talking, all while Jack shouts "I'm ready!". Perfect wake up song.

Oh dear, I've written yet another long blog entry, but I know it's worth it. If you're looking for a burst of piano-rock energy, a chirpy happy melody, and forlorn lyrics, Jack's Mannequin is your guy.

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