The Lucky Jukebox Brigade are a rock band, but the project might as well be a burlesque show or a Broadway musical, a Victorian novel or a coloring book. The seven-piece group will release their sophomore record Familiar Fevers on July 18, but the number and variety of ideas they’ve packed into the album’s 13 tracks begs for a medium more dynamic than the mp3 for full expression.
Frontwoman and baritone ukulele player Deanna DeLuke’s lyrics alone hardly fit in the five-plus minutes most of the tracks afford her. The verses unwind like short audiobooks of adventure, romance and skullduggery, vascillating between themes both twee and gothic. Behind her, the Bridade chugs, stomps and oom-pahs a dramatization of these themes, complete with brass fanfare, group-vocal breakdowns and drum interludes.
Familiar Fevers, like the band’s debut, Pretty Well Damned, has a costumed feel about it, like a bunch of over-caffeinated theater kids locked in the props department overnight. Inside the album’s vaudevillian trunk are the dressings for gypsy jazz and big-band swing, the bossa and the Balkan, murder ballads and sock-hop rock.
On paper, the whole thing should be a big, flamboyant trainwreck. But the band’s hyperactive imagination never oversteps their abilities—which are formidable. The horn arrangements (trumpet, trombone, saxophone, tuba and euphonium) especially demonstrate a studied compositional hand, while the resources of drummer Carl Blackwood’s Warming Room Studios managed to maintain sufficient breathing room in the tracks to prevent sonic asphyxiation. It can still be a little much to take in one sitting, so be forewarned: You might need a Red Bull or a smoke break.