‘Off to the Races’ disappoints writer

staff writer

The infamous and relatively famous indie rockers, dance rockers and all-around fun makers, Jukebox the Ghost, are back with their fifth full-length album, and it’s painfully average for the group.
The three-man group hailing from near the nation’s capital has been pumping out records since 2007, with their self-titled EP and their smash hit 2008 full-length album “Let Live and Let Ghost.”
The band has been known for hitting a sweet spot in the pop-rock genre blend that many fans and passers-by can dance along to without feeling too guilty.
Through piano ballad, driven songs complimented with groovy guitar chords, bouncy drums and sweet synthesizers, as well as very charming and somewhat layered vocals, there’s something for everyone on this album.
However, on “Off to the Races” the band has, for one, overdone this style. Five albums in, the sound gets a bit stale and boring.
Also, the band produces some of their most cliched and most lifeless material to date. But, let’s start with the positives on this record.
The opening track is light-hearted with energetic and fun grooves that remind me of Queen, but everyone loves Queen so we can’t be too upset about that.
The second track, “Everybody’s Lonely” is more of the same fun of the opening track, but adds more danceable synths and colorful vocals to keep your ears interested.
“People Go Home” is a beachy and summery track with an interesting message of getting out of the everyday groove of life.
So, the band can still produce fun, shiny and danceable indie pop tracks that help you forget about your everyday life.
However, once you pass the track “Time and I,” everything starts to go downhill. “Diane” is a painfully boring acoustic guitar ballad with no direction or power.
“See You Soon” is an excruciatingly lifeless piano ballad that tries to emulate a Stevie Wonder track, but doesn’t have the substance or life that Stevie’s songs have. Also, the track tries to play on the emotions of the listener, but fails to keep me interested in the style of the track.
“Simple As 1 2 3” is basically listening to an opening to a show like “Friends” but it feels so awkward. The lead singer, Ben Thornewill, makes everything feel awkward when the guitar and bells come in. His voice just doesn’t pair well with the sound they are trying to produce on the track.
Overall, I really didn’t expect much from the band since they really haven’t come to full form since my favorite record in 2010, “Everything’s Under the Sun.” They seem to be ringing it in on many of the tracks here.
I wish they could diverge from this sound and get a new defining sound. Drop the Mumford & Sun’s, Panic at the Disco, Queen and Of Montreal influences and come to their own sound.
But, Happy Listening, Gannon University!

• Genre: Indie Pop, Piano Rock, Dance Rock
• Rating: mid 4/10
• Favorite Song: “Jumpstart”
• Least Favorite Song: “Diane” or “See You Soon”

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