Andrew McMahon enters “The Pop Underground”

How woefully behind am I on my blog that I saw Andrew McMahon live in April, saw Amie in Portland the week it came out (starting to become something of a tradition, however unintentionally, that we see each other upon the release of a new McMahon disc) and it’s now been roughly two months since.  As such, this is less a first-reaction review as it is a final digestion of his first music as a true solo artist, following his runs in Something Corporate and Jack’s Mannequin.

The surprising part of the EP, even despite its shortness, is the result here isn’t really particularly grandiose.  There was always something somewhat ambitious on McMahon’s output, starting with the epic “Konstantine” in the early days to “M.F.E.O.” and “Caves” in his Jack’s output.  The more straightforward approach, however, was kicked off with last Jack’s album “People and Things,” and is maintained here.

We see him trade some of the organic instrumentation with synthesizers, which makes a bit of sense given he’s transitioning into a solo approach, yet the songs are clearly his, having some of the same markings and unique signatures that are his trademark. Even if the songs aren’t as grandiose, they’re still elaborate in production and lush in subtle touches; there’s definitely thought put into them.  The lyrics aren’t as dense as some of his output, which makes the songs more accessible; it definitely gives him a shot at capturing some new fans.

The EP is four tracks; of the four, I think I most enjoy “Catching Cold” at the moment; it’s a bit different than most of his output, as the tempo is ratched up, but the mood invoked is pretty amazing and the lyrical content is thought-provoking.  The others, however, shouldn’t be ignored; it’s a strong, tight set for McMahon and highlights his evolution well.  With luck, this is the first salvo towards a full album – it’s a good direction for McMahon to take, and his loyal fans will surely follow.

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