Jukebox the Ghost is under the sway of so many influences, they probably shouldn’t be allowed to drive. And another thing ... what’s with the Philadelphia trio absolutely jacking its sophomore album, Everything Under the Sun, all the way out of the ballpark? This is the sort of album a band works toward for a decade or so, not a mere two years after a pretty swell debut (2008’s Let Live and Let Ghosts). This brand of mature and diverse and arresting Pop typically takes more than 24 months to properly percolate.
Lyrically, JTG disguises their darkly tinted, slyly pessimistic messages with an irresistible icing of sweet sonic sunshine, a shovelful of sugar making the bitter medicine go down.
That’s not to say that JTG is overly sweet. Although these guys are, without question, among the most brilliantly gifted melodicists to come down the Indie Pop pike in a good many years, there is a distinct edge to the sugary musical buzz they provide, like a licorice pistol with a cotton candy silencer and a full clip of peppermint bullets.
JTG plays with the breakneck passion and crisp contemporary edge of their Emo Pop peer group on Everything Under the Sun — Motion City Soundtrack comes to mind — but they hit so many classic reference points that if they’re not influences, they should be. JTG exhibits the hypercaffeinated quirk of Sparks, the Prog/Pop majesty of Jellyfish and The Grays and the piano Pop sophistication of Ben Folds, but keeps it grounded with an abiding respect for the foundational architecture of the individual and collective Beatles and the bombastic cathedral painting of Queen.
But like all good craftsman, the seams don’t show when Jukebox the Ghost stitches this all together to create their manic-to-moody songbook, and that may be their greatest talent in the long run. After the infectious Pop exhilaration of Everything Under the Sun, here’s hoping that a long run is Jukebox the Ghost’s destiny.