Review Summary: With their sophomore effort, ‘Everything Under the Sun’, Jukebox the Ghost shows that pop/rock doesn’t have to be the limited genre we often recognize it as.
Ah....Pop/Rock. You’re one of those stylistic fusions that is killing the modern scene, you know? You take two very interesting genres in their own right and force them together, making them so fun and safe they lack any substance. Want to say something thoughtful in a pop/rock song?...make sure it’s about love or getdafuckout. You’ve stripped yourself of anything interesting for so long, you persist only because you have the full weight of music’s Big Machine behind it. But, it doesn’t all have to be like The Fray or Train. “Why?”, you ask?...because Jukebox the Ghost proves it, that’s why.
I admit, that introduction is absolutely over the top...but it’s great to hear smart, fun music. With their sophomore effort, ‘Everything Under the Sun’, Jukebox the Ghost shows that pop/rock doesn’t have to be the limited genre we often recognize it as. Songs on the album come from different perspectives, as pianist Ben Thornewill and guitarist Tommy Siegel share songwriting and vocal duties. While there are refreshing differences between the two, they share the same overall blend of optimism, truthfulness, and intelligence.
None of this is groundbreaking by any means, as pop/rock exists beyond the MTV definition. However, they’ve got the ability to write music makes you feel good while still capitalizing on the strengths of standard pop. They share traits with some of the smarter pop/rock successes (Ben Folds, Keane, Weezer), but are clearly not afraid to push their music to the boundaries of the genre. After songs like “Schizophrenia” and “Empire” rest on the solid foundation of the pop/rock format, “The Sun” pushes into progressive (*gasp!*) territory, while still capturing the helium-soaked immersive quality that makes it easy to listen to on repeat.
The success of the record owes a lot to the solid performances of the entire band, with each member contributing important aspects to their sound. Drummer Jesse Kristin adds enough diversity to his beats to assure you that his skills aren’t being tested very far, and Siegel’s tasteful use of effects and ability to both support and take over the song are balanced very well. Pianist/vocalist Thornewill possesses freakish amounts of talent, and has the ability to completely own a song with both his piano playing and vocals (see “So Let Us Create”).
They have all of the tools to succeed, and have two strong album’s worth of songs to show for their brand of jolly rock with a touch of thought. From this point, their intelligence could be their biggest obstacle from reaching the next stage of success. However, if success demands either fun or smarts and not both, let’s hope they just avoid the idea of success altogether.