WEDNESDAY, JUNE 20, 2012|
Posted by: Zoe Marquedant
Jukebox the Ghost is the most recent and longest standing project between Jesse Kristin, Tommy Siegel, and Ben Thornewill. The three have united under different names before sticking with this moniker, and under it, they have cultivated a sound thats lands somewhere between Death Cab for Cutie and Queen. However, Safe Travels isnt just a one trick piano-pop pony. The album yo-yos between catchy indie rock songs and somber piano ballads, giving the record two distinct sides.
One voice on the album wrestles with adulthood, responsibility and being discontent. The albums opener "Somebody" carries this message clearest. The track cheers, "I need it, I want it" over a backdrop of sunny guitar and punchy piano. It give the feeling that the boys of Jukebox are growing restless and want more. "Don't Let Me Fall Behind" revisits this feeling. As their most ambitious track it is one spot where the band chooses to really stretch their legs, or their rather vocal chords. Thornewill and Siegel use the opportunity to test their abilities as vocalist and pass the test beautifully.
The vocal fortitude continues for "All For Love." The song introduces a pretty adorable love theme with lyrics like "well you were quite / the love interest last night". (Aww.) The quiet piano of the introduction is swapped out for a tumbling chorus of crashing cymbals and guitar, making it one of the more dynamic tracks. It is followed by "Man in the Moon," the album's unrequited love song, which kicks listeners right in the heart with the lines "are you in love with someone/are you asleep with someone/are you in love with someone new?" For more heartfelt goodness, see Oh, Emily the album's second single. I jest, but what would any album be without relationship songs and pronouns?
Jukebox returns to the theme of growth with the powerful "Everybody Knows." The song has an Queen-like vibe with a bigger orchestral sound and the albums first proper guitar solo. The guitar is also given more facetime in "At Last." This energy is continued for "Say When," the cheekiest and perhaps most relatable song on Safe Travels. Following a more traditional story arc, it wins us over with quirky lyrics and a simple "if you've had enough say when" motto.
Periodically the albums more retrospective and soulful voice rears it head. These tracks show a deeper side to Jukebox the Ghost that is perhaps a little preoccupied with death and ghosts. The pop rock slows into the chilling piano and sorrowful cello of "Devils On Our Side." "Dead" is another we're-going-to-slow-it-down-and-get-serious song and a well-placed tonal shift. Mid-way through the album, "Dead" opens with the slightly unhinged sentiment, "maybe it was just the sleeping pills." It's a little abrupt after the build-up of "Don't Like Me Fall Behind," but the song crescendos and brings the energy back up in time for "Adulthood." An anthem for the kid-at-heart crowd, "Adulthood," takes a less-resigned look at getting old. "Ghosts In Empty Houses" continues this trend of exploring life and mortality. The discussion is capped off by "The Spiritual," where the band tackles spirituality and mortality, admitting it is the rarest of pleas. The gospel-like song is an excellently crafted end to the album.
Jukebox strays into a different lyrical deep-end in "Ghost In Empty Houses." The opening line "in this country / at any given time / there are two million empty houses" sounds like the depressing statistics your douche-y friend posts on Facebook. Maybe that was the inspiration for the song? Past songs like "Schizophrenia" off of Everything Under the Sun are more thematic than most of Safe Travels. The majority of the album focuses on moving forward and the experience of a journey.