Album Review: Andrew McMahon In the Wilderness, Zombies On Broadway, 2017

There is a very small handful of musicians that I can say, with all honesty, have never let me down. That isn’t to say that I haven’t liked songs or that albums haven’t been everything I dreamed of, but rather that with every new project, I’ve always found something to love from these artists, whether it be a song, an album, a tour, a video, or something else.

Andrew McMahon (Something Corporate, Jack’s Mannequin, Andrew McMahon In the Wilderness) is one of these musicians.

When he announced the release of Zombies On Broadway on Instagram last year, I read the caption on the post at least four times. New music! From Andrew McMahon! I could have wept. Given everything going on that week, it felt like the only bright spot in a very, very dark world and I clung to it, waiting for the album with bated breath.

On Friday, February 10, I opened the streaming link on my Spotify account and listened to Zombies On Broadway all day: as I showered, as I got dressed for work, as I walked to the bus, as I got on and rode downtown, even during some of my breaks that night during my shift.

As you can probably tell, Zombies On Broadway did not disappoint. I think this album will be even better live, which makes sense, because McMahon’s live energy is incredible. I really want to see him dance on top of his piano playing these songs.

I had listened to some of the pre-released tracks, but I’ve always found that I enjoy those songs more when I hear them in the context of the full album.

That was definitely true of “So Close”, which I didn’t love upon first listen but which has become one of my top favorite from the album. I love that it’s sandwiched between “Brooklyn, You’re Killing Me” and “Don’t Speak for Me (True)”. This album kicks off so strong with those three tracks and throws you into dance party mode immediately.

Friday morning, I listened to “So Close” in the shower and danced my way from exfoliation to conditioner. It was awesome.

Heard you whisper over the hum of an electric chair
To live like this could take its toll
But you’re no stranger
To the height of almost getting there
Are we losing touch or taking hold

– Andrew McMahon In the Wilderness, “So Close”

Diving into this album felt like coming up for air for the first time in a long time. The middle of it, especially “Dead Man’s Dollar” and “Walking In My Sleep” continues the dance party theme of the beginning while also delving into slightly murkier waters, lyrically.

As always, McMahon delivers tough emotional licks from beginning to end; although I think the album is weaker at the end than at the beginning or the middle, “Birthday Song” feels personal and painful in way that makes it hit hard in a very different way.

Zombies On Broadway is simultaneously very different from everything else I’ve heard by McMahon and very similar, especially to the last In the Wilderness album. There’s always a sense of unbridled joy in new music from this artist, which is really refreshing, and even the serious nature of many of his songs doesn’t diminish any of that joy. It’s clear, with every listen, that he loves making music, and that makes it really awesome to hear.

I didn’t manage to snag tickets to Andrew McMahon In the Wilderness’ upcoming show in Boston, but I’m hoping to catch the band on its next tour through New England. I have so many perfect, life-changing memories associated with McMahon and his music and I want to just continue that trend.

If you haven’t listened to this album yet, I highly recommend it! If this week is kicking off extra hard, it might put a little spring in your step.

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