A personally biased account of Andrew McMahon’s The Pop Underground EP

pop undergroundAndrew McMahon | The Pop Underground EP
30 April 2013
Left Here Music

Personal review by: Meghan Kearney

Today, my “new music Tuesday,” I was graced with the sweet little gift that is Andrew McMahon’s new EP, The Pop Underground. I must start with the addendum that I’ve been in a love affair with all things Andy music since I was 15. I am now 27. I met my best friend over dissections of “If U C Jordan.” I went to my first non-N’sync, almost-an-adult, Something Corporate show at Ybor City’s The Masquerade. I went to 6 more. One of my high-school teachers used to poke fun at me asking if there was a “buy one get ten free” sale on Something Corporate shirts at Hot Topic. Andy was the leader of my tween, in between pop and indie music phase obsession. He carried me and my whole life across the country from Tallahassee to Portland under the name Jack’s Mannequin. He ushered me through my first big break-up and heartbreak with The Glass Passenger. And cashing in at only 4 songs, this tiny bit of bliss has been the most feels-like-home burst of nostalgia and adoration I’ve had for a new release in quite a while.

“Synesthesia” The first track, is the one that hits the hardest. For now. The lyrics preach to my life, and love for music. “I see colors, when I hear your voice. I see colors, I don’t hear the noise.” There’s an absence of piano, but I don’t even care. This is Andy’s underground experiment and I well picture him out of his comfort zone, away from the ivory keys. Hunched over plastic ones. The whole song describes the most passionate connection to someone, something, somewhere; all of it at once.

“Catching Cold” This track openly embraces a very unlike-Andy electronic vibe. Totally backed by synth, but grounded with his unmistakable vocals. “If the moonlight comes to steal your smile, call me up when your eyes don’t close.” Likening life’s highs and lows to catching a cold, he’s always got a way with words to help you recover.

“Learn to Dance” The quintessential “you will make it through” track of an Andrew McMahon record. This is what makes him so addictive. You can never, ever be sad when Andy has something to say to you. It has the amazingly catchy feel, backed by even more synth promoting the words “In this world we can learn to dance when there’s no tomorrow.” Am I waiting for a bass drop on this song written by the guy from Something Corporate?

“After the Fire” I hear a bit of that old piano here. It’s upbeat. It’s Andy climbing to the top of his upright. Oh, it’s called “After the Fire” so is this a symbolic representation he is done setting those things on fire? The silly thing here is that this track’s vibe reminds me most of something you’d expect from Bryce Avery. Andy has always been the kind to shape “life is hard but I promise it gets better” ideal, where Bryce shapes “let’s just clap our hands and dance.” This track presses those boundaries. And after the whirlwind life that we know Andrew McMahon has had, I’d say this is his epilogue.

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