Nutshell Album Review: Jukebox the Ghost – Safe Travels
First off, can we celebrate this site’s first review of a non-self-titled album? Good.
Now the reason your reading this, which is Jukebox the Ghost and the third installment of their discography, Safe Travels.
Jukebox is not screwing around here, and they go right for the jugular with their usual “I’m walking down the street about to start an amazingly happy adventure” sound. The first song on the album, titled “Somebody”, features keyboardist Ben Thornewell on lead vocals describing his wants and needs (He literally says “I want it, I need it” over and over in the song). It truly is a great song to get any listener ready to go for this album. “Oh, Emily” takes over with a similar template, not including the switching out of Thornewell for Tommy Siegel on lead vocals. The indie vibe is very strongly embraced with a drum beat full of quick tempo stick clicks and a keyboard heavy opening and verse. “At Last” is what follows, and it’s frankly just adorable. A good old fashioned coffee house style piano riff leads us into a song that taps all musical bases. Jukebox was able to successfully utilize the string section and tambourine for this song, something that hasn’t been done this well since fun.’s first album, Aim and Ignite. After “At Last” comes the (as always) exciting and upbeat “Say When”, which basically makes Tommy Siegel seem like the most compassionate and caring person in the world. This is a perfect point for me to mention that the amount of energy created by these three people is incredible, mainly because this song is a perfect example. “Don’t Let Me Fall Behind” is one of the gems of this album, featuring both Thornewell and Siegel heavily on vocals (and maybe even Jesse Kristin). The band makes it apparent that they are a rock band with this song, with a large emphasis on guitar and drums.
The album then takes a sharp turn with the song “Dead”, which poses the question of “If you’re dead, how do you know if
you are really dead?” Jukebox the Ghost’s usual high pace is severely slowed down with this song, which was clearly influenced by some outside personal experiences. Whatever the song lost from the band’s traditional sound is gained by sheer force and passion.
The pace is quickly picked back up with “Adulthood”, the anthem for any kid at heart who wishes to have their youth back. “Ghosts in Empty Houses” adds a large synth organ part to the opening to continue the energy and excitement, along with Siegel proclaiming that these guys are going to continue enjoying life until after they’re dead. I don’t care if it doesn’t make any sense, because it’s the most uplifting thing I’ve ever heard. The slowed down pace and passion from “Dead”, along with the string section from “At Last”, is brought back for “Devils On Our Side”, this time with Ben Thornewell back on lead vocals. With a transition so smooth I had to triple take to notice the song changed, “Devils On Our Side” leads into “All For Love”. The coffee house piano riffs are welcomed back, along with a huge explosion of musical influences in the middle, where everything from Queen and The Beatles to fun. is audible. The two minute acoustic love song “Man In The Moon” is what follows, a story of a lovesick Tommy Siegel trying to figure out if the person he is drawn to has moved on. It can only be described as the cutest thing in the world, and anyone who hears this song may shed a tear or two. The pace is then picked up once again in the song “Everybody Knows”. Another one about a lovesick singer, this time regretting his decision to leave his ex-lover. The album is closed out on a high note with “The Spiritual”. Frankly there is no better title for this hymn-like song, complete with church style harmonies and a nice stomp, clap rhythm. Thornewill pulls out all the stops with his vocal range in this song, completing it with a solid piano part and powerful drums.
Jukebox the Ghost pulled out all of the stops for Safe Travels, and the hard work clearly paid off. I’ve never seen an album that was so well put together and diverse. It was an emotional journey to say the least, and an album with this many stories to tell deserves a round of applause. It’s a shame that it took heartbreak, death, and a way too early midlife crisis, but Safe Travels gets a 94/100, and it is available now.
Safe Travels Tracklisting:
- Oh, Emily
- At Last
- Say When
- Don’t Let Me Fall Behind
- Ghosts In Empty Houses
- Devils On Our Side
- All For Love
- Man In The Moon
- Everybody Knows
- The Spiritual