Jukebox the Ghost's "Safe Travels"
- Article by: Jon O'Brien
- Posted: 06/14/2012
From the jerky Afrobeat riffs, swooping falsetto vocals and pounding piano chords of the utterly addictive opener “Somebody,” it doesn’t appear that much has changed in the theatrical-pop world of Philadelphia trio, Jukebox The Ghost, since their 2010 sophomore release, Everything Under The Sun.
But while their third and most recent album, Safe Travels (6/12/12, Yep Roc Records), is still heavily indebted to the piano-rock of Billy Joel, Ben Folds and Keane, (particularly on the string-soaked “Everybody Knows” and the hook-laden pomp of “At Last”), the majority of its 13 tracks showcases a maturity and introspectiveness that’s been largely absent from their previous sci-fi-themed fare.
“Dead” is a suitably haunting ballad that explores the concept of life after death, right before bursting into a grandiose post-rock finale. “Adulthood” counteracts its jaunty cabaret leanings with some rather sobering thoughts on the fleetingness of life, whilst “Oh, Emily” sees guitarist Tommy Siegel apologising to a heartbroken former lover against a backdrop of jittery indie-funk.
Also exploring unchartered waters, the wistful “Man In The Moon” is a convincing foray into early 70s pastoral folk, while “Devils On Our Side” is a delicately mournful torch song. The latter segues cleverly into the cinematic chamber pop of “All For Love,” whilst the hymnal closer, “The Spiritual,” channels the sounds of traditional gospel music with its heavenly harmonies and infectious handclaps.
Occasionally a little too bombastic, but never bereft of ideas, Safe Travels is a surprisingly emotive listen, which suggests that Jukebox The Ghost can leave their nerdy power-pop days firmly behind, should they choose.