Many indie rock bands start small, with a lo-fi single or a handful of crummy-sounding MP3s. Not Jukebox the Ghost. The D.C. trio decided not to hold back on its debut long-player, "Let Live & Let Ghosts." With music that's dynamic and often delightful, if sometimes a shade too theatrical, the band demonstrates ingenuity to match its ambition. "This is not a test / It's the real thing," not one but two of the album's songs credibly assert.
Ben Thornewill's piano defines most of these tunes. Like many piano men who turn to rock, Thornewill has classical chops and cabaret tendencies. "Victoria" isn't a Kinks cover, but it does recall that band's music-hall ditties. (Originally dubbed the Sunday Mail, Jukebox the Ghost has an affinity for British baroque-pop bands.)
Sung either by Thornewill or guitarist Tommy Siegel, the songs are mostly about love or the end of the world, and render each subject with equal conviction. But music this ebullient is ideally suited to the giddiness of infatuation, which makes "Hold It In" the album's exemplary track: Piano, rhythm and voice all scramble to convey the run-on emotion of "maybe I'm in love and, baby, it's starting to tell."
-- Mark Jenkins, Weekend (March 2008