ALBUM REVIEW: Jukebox the Ghost - Safe Travels
Yep Roc Records
Released June 12, 2012
Born in our fine city, Jukebox The Ghost had originally formed under another name when its three members met at GW University in 2003. Now after releasing their third album, the band clearly displays a marked progression of maturation from their first two records. While Jukebox The Ghost have always been a slice above their indie contemporaries, Safe Travels finds them improving upon the grooving piano pop which has been their hallmark, and the album has more of an ensemble feel. Think of them as a more peppy and lighthearted Jack’s Mannequin or Ben Folds, both of whom have been their touring partners in years past. Lead singer/keyboardist Ben Thornewill and guitarist Tommy Siegel split songwriting duties almost 50/50; though Thornewill’s tunes tend to be more introspective, and Siegel’s, more single-conscious, their styles mesh effortlessly. No matter the penman, the songs remain almost egregiously catchy - check out the 123-123-12 rhythm of album opener ‘Somebody’ paired with Thornewill’s soulful exclaimations of desire and want. Siegel’s loveably nasally voice delivers (and then some) on lead single ‘Oh, Emily’, whose chorus reads “Oh, Emily, you’re a funny girl / And I didn’t mean to break your heart / But I’m lost in love with everyone / And so now’s as good any / As a place to start”. Conversely, Thornewill’s own songs of heartbreak look less to the possibility of future self-reconciliation and focus more, eloquently and gracefully, on the immediate pain of loss. The band also explores themes of religious and spiritual struggle, not the norm for indie piano rockers these days. On ‘Dead’, Thornehill sings “We all at minimum deserve a unique exit from this world / If you’re there, God / See to it, God / See to it”; on Siegel’s ‘Ghosts In Empty Houses’ he sings “Every little piece of heaven brings a little piece of hell”. Later tracks ‘Devils On Our Side’ and ‘All For Love’ at first drag on a bit but end up growing on the listener; otherwise every song is essentially radio-ready.
Pop influences of the 60s and 70s are evident throughout, and closing track ‘The Spiritual’ could have been an alternate reality Abbey Road B-side. Safe Travels’ instrumentationsticks to the playful synths and shimmering guitar that make the music so appealing, but also branches out to include tasteful violin arrangement which belie Thornewille’s classical influences.
Jukebox The Ghost earn their living juxtaposing pensive, melancholy, but also optimistic lyrics with eclectic upbeat piano pop. As Siegel advises on ‘Ghosts In Empty Houses’, “Beware / Be wary”: it won’t take much for this album to find a permanent place in your heart.
Stream ‘Oh, Emily’ & ‘Somewhere’ on Jukebox The Ghost’s official site.
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- neanderthall said: Such a wonderful album, i am really bummed im missing their show at 9:30 and hope they come back soon!
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