Unbelievably, JackInABox - the third studio album by Turin Brakes - is ten years old this month. In order to give the album a bit of love (and perhaps some well-deserved renewed interest), it was decided that we, the fans, would select and write about our favourite tracks from the album so we can share our thoughts with other lovely Brakes fans via Ether Site. A fitting tribute to a great album.
Initially this was just meant to be a brief piece on one of the singles from the album and why I liked it but, when I started writing it became apparent that as usual I had a bit more to say on the matter. This has now therefore become my brief history of discovering (and rediscovering) Turin Brakes' third album and what it and they mean to me.
There is an overwhelming sound of summer sun about JackInABox
Firstly, a bit about the album itself. It was released in 2005 to good reviews and fared pretty well in the UK charting at number 9 in the first week. However, the first single from the album which was "Fishing For A Dream" didn’t do that well only coming in at number 35. This is something I have written about before with Turin Brakes, the wrong choice of leading single. But as they don’t consider themselves to be a single led band (their own words) I guess they can be forgiven. And anyway, that’s just my own opinion and means nothing in the grand scheme of things really.
I have been trying to recall actually purchasing the album in the first place and have a vague memory of doing so. It was May 2005, I had recently moved away from my hometown of London and had ended up living in the Midlands. I don’t actually remember where I bought the CD, but it probably would’ve been somewhere like HMV I would guess. I’m almost positive I have the limited edition version of the album with the DVD included (I usually plump for the limited ones), but it’s currently residing in my loft with a large proportion of my collection so I can’t be 100% certain on that one. I do know that I need to get my hands on it again though. But fear not, I have a second copy of the standard CD in my current listening pile plus it’s on my iPod, so it’s all good!
Ten years is a long time to get to know an album, but I have to say, I have never been as attached to JackInABox in the same way I am to Ether Song. It could be that I just didn’t give it enough time to get under my skin as I did with the other albums, or, more than likely, it’s because it came along at what was one of the most awful times in my life and it just got boxed up and forgotten about after an initial listen. Not a good excuse really, but I spent most of 2005 moving around the country and my beloved CD collection was unfortunately not always travelling with me.
I do know that at the time when I first listened to the album I particularly loved the title track (and to be honest I still do) as it sounded so different from the tracks on Ether Song and made you want to tap your feet. For me, that’s always been part of the beauty of discovering a new Brakes album, the unexpected difference in sound each time as they themselves grow musically with experience and gain confidence in what they do. Never being afraid to sidestep the norm (or what you’ve been pigeon holed into) is a refreshing trait to have and one which I respect greatly.
Listening again to the album recently I realised that perhaps I should have taken a bit more time with it way back when. There is an overwhelming sound of summer sun about it with a lightness and easy going nature as the tracks flow through. Whether that was deliberate or not, I can’t say, but opening with "They Can’t Buy The Sunshine" certainly sets it up nicely and the gentle acoustic feel we all know and love is there to enjoy. There are some rather harder going tracks though, so don’t think it’s all ice-cream and dozing off with the fireflies, be prepared to have your heart strings tugged at a bit. I read some of the reviews from the time of the albums release and was not surprised to read the usual opinions about poor lyrics and that the fans would love it, but maybe a new audience wouldn’t, blah blah blah. I really do feel that I must be missing something then as I don’t hear that at all. And I’m not just saying that as I am one of "the fans". As much as I support the artists I love, if I don’t like it, I’ll say. I’ll admit that I didn’t fully engage with this album back in 2005, but as someone who is always prepared to have their mind changed, I have gone back, listened again and have decided that actually, it’s pretty damn good. So there.
I never like every single track on an album (no matter who the artist is) and this is no exception. I do have quite a few favourites though and will instantly always start with track two, "Red Moon" as this is the one for me. Why do I love this song so much? Well, it’s basically the best single that never was. Yeah, I might have actually pinched that quote from someone who shall remain nameless (Olly I think)… In fact, I wrote a piece recently on tracks that should have been singles but weren’t and "Red Moon" was my playlist choice as it fits perfectly into that category.
From the opening "oohs" and the slow build up to when the guitar and drums let loose it has you hooked. And it doesn’t let up throughout. Lyrically, it resonates with me a lot and I find the words quite comforting in some respect. Listening to "If you try, you’ll be alright" is an especially moving thing to hear and I think this might be part of the reason why I love this song so much.
As I noted above, 2005 was one of the worst years in my life, but I got through it and have come out the other side. Now, I’m not saying that this was to do with the song itself (I’m not that daft!), but as I’ve been writing this piece and remembering back to that time it hit me that it’s kind of a fitting memory for me personally. Listening to the album now (and especially that track) brings a wry smile to my face and I think it’s because actually, I did try and you know what? I am alright. Even though the song has absolutely nothing to do with that in the slightest doesn’t matter, it’s about what it means to you and how it makes you feel. For me, I’m at my happiest dancing round my kitchen whilst attempting to sing along and that’s the beauty of good music. If it sparks your attention and actually makes you feel something, then it’s hitting the right chord. And by rediscovering this album and that song in particular, that’s what I’ve found and I have Turin Brakes to thank for that.
So, thanks for everything guys. This is for you.
This article originally appeared on Ether Site, as part of their celebration of the ten year anniversary of JackInABox. Head over there for more articles about the album, its tracks, and the memories it has given Turin Brakes fans.