By Kellie Dietrich
Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness released its second album “Zombies on Broadway” on Feb. 10. The indie rock/pop album, full of well-written lyrics and music perfect for dancing, is a follow-up to the self-titled debut of Andrew McMahon’s solo project Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness, which featured the Billboard Hot 100 single “Cecilia and the Satellite” about McMahon’s newborn daughter.
McMahon began his music career in the early 2000s with poppunk band Something Corporate and ventured off into his first solo project Jack’s Mannequin. Before Jack’s Mannequin’s first album was released in 2005, McMahon was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. About a year later, McMahon started the non-profit charity The Dear Jack Foundation, to raise funds for adolescent and young adult cancer (ages 15-39).
After a three-album journey using the moniker Jack’s Mannequin, McMahon was ready for his next solo project: Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness.
The new album “Zombies on Broadway” features 11 tracks and opens up with the sounds of New York City subways in “Zombie Intro,” which quickly leads into “Brooklyn, You’re Killing Me.” The lyrics are more spoken than sung, but the song is still catchy and fun to listen to.
If it’s not obvious from the first two tracks, “Zombies on Broadway” is based on McMahon’s experiences in New York.
“I wrote this album in the middle of a whirlwind, when the future was unclear. Isn’t it always?” writes McMahon on his website. “I found my way to the city, thinking I could settle a score with a ghost. You can’t, so I came home and rewrote the ending.”
The album’s hit-single “Fire Escape” truly gives the feel of spending a night in the big city and being in love. It’s definitely a guilty pleasure to sing and dance along to. Verses are backed up by McMahon’s piano playing, which leads up to a bass drop and a catchy chorus utilizing his distinct voice.
“So Close” is another fun, pop song, about being on the verge of success or failure.
“So close to giving up, so close to going all the way,” sings McMahon in the chorus.
McMahon mixes up his style with country elements in “Walking in My Sleep” and slows things down with “Don’t Speak for Me (True).” On the surface of the latter song, the story seems to be about getting over a breakup, but looking deeper, it could actually be about McMahon surviving cancer.
“Every day I feel a little bit stronger than I was when I was, when I was with you,” he sings.
McMahon’s clever lyrics often utilizes similes; “You’ve got a heart like a neon sign,” he sings in “Shot Out of a Cannon,” and also metaphors, such as comparing love’s strength to a building in the song “Love and Great Buildings.”
The album closes strong with “Birthday Song,” featuring strong soaring vocals accompanied by the piano and wraps things up with more sounds from New York City.
Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness is touring with alternative bands Atlas Genius and Night Rights in The Zombies in America Tour. Catch the tour at The Fillmore in Philadelphia on April 7. More tour dates and information can be found at andrewmcmahon.com.