Off to the Races Wins Triple Crown – Jukebox the Ghost

5 Apr

I’ve written about Jukebox the Ghost before back in 2012, and since then the band has matured their unique brand of anthemic pop and have built a sound that can only be called the “Jukebox” sound. The D.C.-spawned trio of Ben Thornewill (vocals & piano), Tommy Siegel (vocals & guitar) and Jesse Kristin (drums) are now on their fifth studio album, and, despite my overplaying of the infectious earworm Everything Under the Sun (2010)Off to the Races, which was just released in late March, may be the band’s best release yet.

The album brings Jukebox back to its creative roots, calling back to the first two releases (my two favorites) and creating more tracks aligned with this theatrical pop/rock sentiment. The band’s last few releases had a few tracks that worked under this lens, but Off to the Races fits it more as a complete piece. The album also features one of the band’s most ambitious pieces, “Jumpstarted,” which introduces the album and certainly sets the tone. The piece begins with a Queen-like layered vocal harmony and rapidly tickled ivories and transforms into a percussion-fueled, toe-tapping carnival of sounds – the song is a cavalcade of music (fit with creative vocals, call-backs, guitar solos, and electronic interludes) that even progresses into some a cappella. It is an immediate party and a bit risky – thankfully, the song delivers and sets the tone for the rest of the album.

“Fred Astaire” is classic Jukebox. It is a drenched guitar riff mixed with a strong vocal and consequent percussion. The song fits together like a Jukebox puzzle – it is catchy pop but done to absolute perfection. It goes down smooth.

“Everybody’s Lonely,” while different in tone, also demonstrates Jukebox’s grasp over pop tunes. The song starts as a call-back to something I can only term 1950’s diner piano and then progresses into a more traditional pop piece with crashing percussion and a swooning vocal. Thornewill’s piano diversifies this pop; he often demonstrates classical chops and this adds to the song’s success.

Another successful release for Jukebox The Ghost – perhaps their best album in years. Maybe this time I will actually see them when they come to NY; I tried several years ago but the concern was snowed out and I could not go to the make-up date. I need to see this band in concert!

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