Who could have guessed King's X's guitarist, Ty Tabor, had what it takes to write the perfect pop record? Well, OK, maybe Jughead's eponymous disc is not that perfect -- and maybe it's not that pop -- but it's one very nice surprise. For this project, Tabor enlisted the rhythm section of Matt and Gregg Bissonette, along with Planet X (and once Dream Theater) keyboardist Derek Sherinian. Despite the lineup, prog metal fans are in for a shock: Besides guitar riffs crunchier than on your average pop album, this music has little to do with King's X. Instead, think of the lighter side of Spock's Beard (or Neal Morse's first solo effort). Think of rock music with your feet in the sand, of summer holidays, of the Beatles and the Beach Boys casting their influence on a singer/guitarist who had a handful of light, witty, unpretentious songs to record. That's what Jughead's about. From the first lines of "Halfway Home to Elvis," it becomes obvious that the album will draw its strength from instantly hummable melodies and a calculated lack of seriousness. Each track is well chiseled. Prog rock without the pompous synths (Sherinian remains very discreet, hammering chords on an electric piano instead of producing huge synth swirls), alternative rock without the teenage pose, this album is surprisingly refreshing in its take on the hard rock radio hit. "Snow in Tahiti," "Bullet Train," "Be Like You," and "Flowers" are all highlights (the latter could make bubblegum pop fun!). But what makes Jughead a thrilling listen is the way the songs kick off after only a fraction of a second. Two thumbs up.
AllMusic Review by François Couture