Jukebox the Ghost Try a New Genre
This winter, flamboyant piano-hop-disco-groove band Jukebox the Ghost announced the release of their fifth studio album: Off to the Races. Although not a far stray from their typical, jaunty energy, Off to the Races provides its unique target audience with a holistic perspective on the daily proceedings of life in the stable. That’s right– Frontman Ben Thornewill’s theatrical performance strays from the monotony of topics like human love and emotion and meticulously drives a poignant jab at human life by precariously approaching horse-life, thus crafting the first ever studio album for and about horses.
While the full album has yet to be released, the album cover, title, and debuted singles begin to unveil the equestrian scope of this innovated, cross-species musical feat. The first released single “Everybody’s Lonely” may appear to offer a piano-accompanied hook that can in no way be accomplished by a steed; this offers a clever, sardonic juxtaposition to the mare-centered lyrics that delve deep into the lonely, loveless, drunken life that most stallions face. In the second verse of the song, Thornewill cleverly references artist Jackson Pollock, a painter whose art was commonly referred to as skill-less, messy, and even equestrian in nature due to the alleged lack of talent and precision required to create it. This verse references the isolation faced by many horses as their gifts are neglected and their names are often used as cruel insults. And so, what is thought to be a song targeted towards humans’ need for affection echoed relentlessly on the radio transforms into an anthem for the horse community.
The second-released “Jumpstarted” more clearly tackles the toils of horsedom, contrasting its buoyant, flavorful tones with the gloomy fortune of forsaken, marriageless stallion-hood. While the band was criticized for tackling such taboo issues that are usually only discussed between foals, the horse community has met this song with affirmation for spotlighting their adversity. Contrasting the deeper, more serious aspects of horse-hood, “Fred Astaire” handles the lightheartedness and pride in equestrian life, comparing free-roam to human triple-threat Fred Astaire. “When I dance like I don’t care, you call me Fred Astaire,” belts Thronewill, choosing to take on the first-person horse perspective on a less serious song, knowing his place as an outsider in the community. Thornewill’s knowledge of boundaries grants him particular favor, and is the main reason this album is garnering immense support by equestrian listeners.
Perhaps this self-awareness will continue in the remaining tracks or following albums. This success begs the question: is this the beginning of horse-centered music? But with this rise, will others broach topics with the same cautious respect as Jukebox the Ghost?