No Serial Killer – No Serial Killer – Singles Review/Album Sampler
Alrighty…*stretch…someone remind me of what the definition of insanity is once again, and please tell me which side of the screen it actually applies to, if not both…
This will be my third review on No Serial Killer within a month’s time…there has been…hmmm…lots to tackle upon an eighty-three track set. Which is strange in the sense that at this point, No Serial Killer knows pretty much what I’m gonna say & how I’m gonna say it…which makes it even weirder that I’ve got intros in the mix here to comment on as well? No Serial Killer – you speak words good – full stop? An intro is an intro is an intro…at least for the most part…and whether it’s comedic, or that old-school ‘hey baby, I’ve been missing you for a long, long time girrrrrrrrrrl’ in R&B, or pretty much anything else, if it’s not on a spoken word album, I can promise ya you’re probably just getting in the way of the music. I’ve kinda been avoiding them on this record because I could see the length…not that it was an indication that the intros would be something I wouldn’t really dig or see the point in, but with the sheer amount of repetition that’s been uncovered throughout this album so far…yup – I was literally afraid of poking them open to find they’d kinda be more or less all the same thing…which is…well yes, that’s what they are. Most will introduce the song by title & nothing more. Flag on the play, for interference.
Or there are claims like how this would be “the greatest album in recorded human history,” which you’ll find in the opening “Intro.” I almost don’t even know what to do with that comment. Chances are if you’ve read the past two reviews on No Serial Killer that I wrote up last month, you know exactly how I feel…but for the record, I’d probably tell anyone making that claim up front on a record of any kind to get stuffed. So there’s that…no need for anyone to take anything personally, that’s a blanket statement. It ain’t among the wiser choices you can make, that much I can tell ya…and I can’t recall a time where an intro with a magnitude so grandiose that it’s lived up to that much hype thereafter…that’d be basically impossible, of course. We’ve all heard a lot of really great albums in our lifetimes…chances are, none of them are yours…not saying No Serial Killer – I’m saying all of ya – a great record perhaps…but “the greatest album in recorded human history?” Obviously it ain’t gonna be that…and I can promise you that “the greatest album in recorded human history” isn’t gonna show up on our pages anytime soon from anyone else out there either. Honestly, I don’t know that’s a thing that can ever be determined.
So yep, weird start, as expected…that’s kinda been how things have gone with No Serial Killer to-date so far…at least from this side of the screens & speakers. I then went into the “Bird Of Prey Intro,” which also contains more words that are spoken…the title…which takes up about half the length of these intro tunes that weigh in at less than ten seconds usually for the most part…which makes it even stranger, and yes, furthers the point that I cannot figure out for the life of me, why anyone would want that on their records amongst the music they’re working so hard on. Spoiler alert y’all – that’s what the title is for…like the printed one, that we can see…I’m not sure what the advantage could possibly be in having them spoken aloud, but perhaps that’s just me. The “Deep In My Heart Intro” – same applies – these are indeed, more words, and they are spoken, they are clear, they are not a song, and I do not know what on earth anyone out there could possibly either want, or expect, to be said about’em. We good?
Anyway. “Anyway” was the first actual song I’ve got in this particular set of samples from the self-titled No Serial Killer record…and perhaps the effect of the intros does serve this experience better than I had initially thought – at this point, I’m clamoring for something to listen to that’s not just words. Don’t get me wrong, I love me a spoken-word record, I truly do – it’s the half/half that’ll get me fired up every time…I need things to be one or the other personally, otherwise to me, it’s just one side of a record’s personality, energy, and content getting in the way of the other. So yep…fair to say that having a bit of music for me to review in this music review was probably a good move on No Serial Killer’s part. I do my best to keep an open mind…and I’m realistic – I might not feel the same way about the music of No Serial Killer at the end after a long dose, but at the beginning before the repetition takes hold, I’ve honestly never really found this project to be anything less than interesting, inviting, and welcoming to listen to at the very start of the experience. This remains to be true – I like “Anyway” enough, I like Deb’s vocals…there’s very much of a musical-esque vibe here…not too far removed from the Rocky Horror Picture Show or Grease or whatever you wanna choose in that regard…it’s not usually the kind of sound that’s anywhere close to my own personal jam, but I’ll fully admit I don’t really mind what I hear. All-in-all, again, if this were a singular experience, I’m sure it wouldn’t have too much of a problem standing out…but whether or not this will have the opportunity to BE that, remains to be seen – what we’ve been shown in the past has revealed there’s likely to be a few songs that’ll sound the same, which has kind of watered down the potential impact a few of these cuts could have gone on to make, in my opinion. I’m not, at all, whatsoever, claiming to be the end-all/be-all of opinions…I’m just an average, everyday normal guy – and what do I really know anyway? None of this comes with a PHD in song-listening, I can promise ya that. Apparently Big City Radio in Birmingham digs No Serial Killer for example…they’re gonna be playing their song “Big Mistake” on one of their shows, which puts it into some syndication matrix that spreads them out to at least twenty-five others…and right on, that’s cool. Like I’ve always believed, it’s the differences between us that make this world go around, and we all like what we like, don’t what we don’t – so if you DO, dig on No Serial Killer that is…right on – turn’em up. Awesome guitars from Nicky on this cut…in fact, anytime Nicky wants to show up is always a welcome thing in my world…quite often, as No Serial Killer will tell ya themselves, it’s that instrument & the vocalists that tend to bring the diversity to the sound of the music overall, which I tend to agree with.
Don’t get me wrong, whether it’s A.K.M. on the bass-piano, Mella on the mic, or Nicky’s guitar etc. – the artists that No Serial Killer have had working on this album have all done a commendable job with the material they’ve got. There are so many parts of me that are concerned they’re all somewhat working within the framework of a singular idea & melody that tends to show up in nearly every song they play, but when it comes to the musicianship & vocals, they all do a solid job in bringing what they can to it. I almost didn’t recognize Mella on “Baby” compared to what I had heard from her in the past on other tunes from this album so far…she’s got a noticeable level of coolness to her delivery that’s been added in to enhance the attitude of the words & suit the song, which was the right move for sure. Ultimately something like “Baby” isn’t all that much of a distant cousin from songs like “The Twist” & whatnot, it’s just about turning up the tunes and having some fun, celebrating love & all that…and there are always gonna be people out there that dig that kinda stuff if they’re the dancing type. Guitars stand out the strongest here once again if I had to pick one element…and clearly the piano is in full swing, jammin’ it out between A.K.M. & what Michelle brings to it as well…they’re having “some fun” and I’d never begrudge any of you out there for doin’ that. If you’re making the music you love to make, have at’er.
Alrighty…so…here we are – third actual song in this particular review – which in being the third review overall…this is where the wear & tear of the main melody starts to already take hold and needs a bit more diversity than it’s gonna get. “Lost” makes some different choices in the mix in terms of masking that main melody somewhat in behind the rest of the guitars and vocals…and I’ll concede, that actually does make enough of a difference to kind of make this particular track feel slightly different than the rest, which is a good thing of course. Is it enough? For me, or for you? That might be a completely different question and I’ll leave you to answer that on an individual basis out there…arrive at your own consensus after you’ve had a listen for yourselves. In terms of the whole concept driving the record – the waters have been muddied on this issue beyond my own comprehension; I’m by no means any kind of smart guy…but yeah…it’s been tough to connect all of these songs to the core themes of being against serial killers & whatnot from track-to-track. Quite often, if you hadn’t read that information to start with in heading into this record, there’s a chance you’d simply hear many of these songs as sweet love songs…and perhaps that is still indeed, what they are. I ain’t gonna lie to ya…I’ve kind of given up in that aspect…I haven’t been able to figure this record out at all, and I’ve made that no secret to anyone. “Lost” for example, deals with infatuation, impatience, confusion, and the swell of overwhelming emotions…all things that are right on the fringe of what you’d imagine would apply to the concept overall, but never quite linked so strong from point-A to point-B that we’d all go “HEY – I get it! This song is clearly anti-serial-killer” – you know what I mean? Interpretive value is always a good thing though – and in that regard, No Serial Killer always leaves you with plenty to consider or scratch your head about in trying to figure out. Mix-wise, “Lost” presents a slightly different approach than many of the others on this record do in terms of what we hear the most…I don’t know that it’s gonna be quite enough to make the whole difference we might all be seeking out, but it’s at least a bit more diverse.
There she is. Audrey, how I’ve missed ya m’lady. There’s something about the way she captures this particular melody that shows up throughout the No Serial Killer record that seems to have that extra spark to it, and she’s always a welcome voice to my ears. She tends to brighten-up the sound from the microphone when you hear her guest appearances, and that always seems to suit the pepped-up piano vibes just that much more. Between all the guests that have appeared on this record in that regard, there does seem to be a similar restraint being shown as well however…I mean – these are all pretty great singers that A.K.M. has enlisted to sing on this album, yet they’re all kind of subdued in the sense that, you don’t really get those big vocal moments that you typically expect to find. Everything is a little detached in that sense…likely intentionally dissociative to reflect the overall theme at the record’s core – and like I’ve maintained in the past reviews, with some sort of full storyline context in a musical play or production, I think we’d all get that much more out of the reason as to why that is. Right now, as it stands, I hear a lot of singers on this album doing the best with what they’ve got, but it’s almost like they’ve also been asked to stick within a certain script or melodic pattern that seems somewhat restrictive on their abilities & the potential for what they could possibly bring to these tunes as well. “Please Return” is a decent track…I dig the way that Audrey is able to warm up the cold with the way she sings just that much more, no matter if she’s singing about “torture and slaughter” or otherwise.
“Yes I Do Intro” – five seconds to say it, ten seconds to record it. No idea why that is.
A.K.M. – my man. You know what I’m gonna say here! How can we listen to this record and not crave a bit more diversity, specifically through the bass-piano brother? I am TRYIN’ here my friend, I assure ya – I’m doin’ my level-best to hear it from another perspective outside of my own, but it can’t simply come down to the vocals & guitars each time. Like I know that I’m sitting here listening to music all day long every day and that not everyone does – but I just don’t know how the expectation could be that on an eighty-three track record that other listeners wouldn’t feel that potential wear & tear as well. And it makes me sad…because I wanna write great things, and I want people out there to succeed; I continually hear the odds being stacked against No Serial Killer in so many ways, and so much creativity inherent to this project that it is WEIRD to find so much in one area of the music, and so little in another, you dig? With so many similarities to be found in tempo, rhythm, and melody from track-to-track to be found, the tiniest differences can become so crucial – Mella puts in a highlight performance here from the mic on “Celia” – but I’d argue the song overall, is still well-within the framework we’ve heard put forth so far. The comparisons that can be made between each song you’ll hear would have enough to make a decent sized list of’em…this is where that Groundhog Day effect starts to take hold, even with the tinier handful of differences that are made. As I mentioned before, if you were to switch A.K.M.’s piano out for a traditional bass in these tunes, the results would still be the same – I’d call that instrument out just as much for needing to add a bit more to its versatility from song to song, which clearly the dude would be capable of, which makes it even stranger that he like…I dunno…outright seems to refuse to show us that dimension of his depth? I’m not sure how else to put it at this point – the man has got me feeling like I’m at the center of some bizarre sociological experiment that I haven’t been informed I was participating in. You just never know in this weird world of ours…I’ve run into just about every scenario under the sun some twenty-odd years into my music journalism career – I wouldn’t put it past someone out there to go that route one day and test things out on the human brain. I do feel a great pity for the person out there that might mistake my own for having some value, whenever it might happen one day, but ultimately I’d get it. Music is used for many things…why not experimentation on how we think, how we react, where our minds go, and how they operate? I might have said so much throughout these reviews that they could have an entire profile built around me now – who knows? While it’s often tougher to appreciate what those small differences may be as No Serial Killer innovates within this main core melody & concept, I will readily concede that hooks-wise, you might find more on “Celia” than most. As far as the theme of the song itself…again, verifiably sweet in almost every possible way you can conceive…it’s not until we twist it within our own minds in trying to relate it to the No Serial Killer concept that it would reveal anything potentially devious…and even then, it’d be you filling in those gaps yourself to bridge the many leaps & spaces in between linking this all together cohesively to its central idea. I’m not entirely sure we’re supposed to even be doing that…but I’ve been confused from day one when it comes to this record, as I’ve already claimed; maybe it’s me that’s gone crazy and nothing more.
Perplexin’ y’all, no two ways about it. I am almost inclined to put “Duvet” up there with the best in this particular sample set from the No Serial Killer record simply for the fact that, while similar to other tunes I’ve heard in the past two outings with this project, in this lineup of fourteen, it’s one of the most unique here. That being said, I felt like I genuinely connected to the words here, especially as it began, and right now in this very moment…”I don’t wanna work, ‘cause baby I’m a jerk” – that’s all I feel right now really – that and the main chorus refrain of “I just wanna sleep, I just wanna sleep until I die” – I feel that too. “Duvet” is kind of the anthem for those out there that wanna pull their covers over their head and shut the noise of the world out around them…and at its core, there’s a whole lot of you out there that’ll be able to relate to that, hopefully just for a moment you’ve experienced and not a lifetime, but yeah, there’s a relatable idea here that works well enough in their favor. We’ve all gotta write about something, as I’ve said here many times…so why not write about the love of a good “Duvet?” I’d still take this track over another song about chicks & cars any day of the week, so there’s that. Deb holds her own, Nicky does a great job in chiming in with the personality of his guitar, and A.K.M. diversifies what he does just enough to make “Duvet” different enough from the rest…there are positives here.
“Searching” probably gives you a glimpse of one of the more unique vocal patterns to be found within the melody of the songs on this record & Mella does another excellent job with her guest appearance on the ol’ microphone. Nicky’s had a lot of excellent moments on the guitar from the tone of it to the way he plays, and in my opinion, you’ll find one of his biggest highlights on “Searching” as well…he’s got a fantastic sense of not only when to chime in, but with what tone & energy to bring to the moment as well. All-in-all, I’d have to imagine that “Searching” would likely be considered as one of the most accessible songs on this record – I think there’s that much going right here between the music & the microphone. There’s a sweetness in the atmosphere that continually connects in the right ways, and I think you’ve gotta give’em all credit for the reasons as to why that is…everyone seems to be at their very best here, and for a track that’s among their longest cuts, even without too much variation and following the patternistic ways that No Serial Killer approaches their music with, this cut never really felt as long as it actually was. I’ll put it to ya this way – they’ve certainly got shorter tunes that feel about ten times longer than this – there’s something about the way that everything seems to come together in just the right way on “Searching” that makes the warmth of the glow in the melody & spirit in this song stand out in a genuinely invitational way. So credit where credit is due – I looked at this nearly six-minute song coming up in the playlist over here as it got closer and wondered how this was gonna go, but I feel like the combined strengths of their performances here and the way they’ve captured this melody as spot-on as they have here with all the right ingredients made for an authentic highlight for sure. While I don’t know if I’d be able to say I’d be able to come back to the entire record’s worth of songs in this lineup of their self-titled record – I could see myself coming back to this particular track. It might be No Serial Killer breaking me down over time, but it also might just be a really solid song overall.
The combination of Jenna’s vocals and Audrey’s lead also deserves a serious shout-out – I loved these two together on “Tell Me” – and conceptually-speaking, going back to this album’s original intentions, an idea like you’ll find in this song makes that much more sense to us when we’re listening in terms of the themes of infatuation, stalking, a little too much love, and the whole No Serial Killer-ing thing. You travel pretty quickly through this song starting out as a good ol’ innocent lil’ bit of cyber-stalking, to what’s basically a full-blown mental breakdown and the feeling that the main character here has run up against finding the proverbial ‘one & only’ once-in-a-lifetime love…which should tell ya something right there I suppose when it comes to the observatory way the themes of this record tend to play. The call & answer approach taken between the guitars & vocals works in their favor…”Tell Me” is another strong cut for No Serial Killer in terms of performance & execution from the concept on up. If anything, they display the very thin line that exists between the sweetness of love and dangerous outright infatuation. There’s a chance that the backing vocals might steal the show for me here on this tune, but I do kinda dig this one as well when it comes right down to it…I think you get that much more out of the storyline & songwriting, which works for me. In terms of this concept record, ultimately, it’s a pretty crucial cut.
By the time I got to “R U Lonely?” I felt like I would now be able to pick singer Mella out of a lineup blindfolded as well, which has her joining Audrey in terms of being able to recognize a signature style. I maintain she brought something different to “Baby” earlier on in the set that put a different spin on her natural sound, but when she’s singing in her own organic gear, she’s definitely got a recognizable sound. While I wouldn’t say that you get a necessarily huge moment from her on the mic, there is a noticeable amount of more freedom that seems to be afforded to her as she explores the range of melody in the chorus hooks, and I think that’s great. I’ve gone into the whole rigidness of the design in many of these tunes in the past already and I’m not gonna dive back into that here – but what I will say, is it’s the tiny twists like these that can make all the difference in the world in terms of what pulls us in to listen. I’ve got my moments with the verses here & there…everything about the vocals on this record is tremendously pronounced, which is what’ll lead you to start digging into the words themselves as being its most important asset, which sends ya down the whole rabbit-hole of trying to tie this whole record together conceptually & all…but you’ve heard all that from me already. The chorus of “R U Lonely?” has the potential to win you over, and Mella can be largely thanked for the reason as to why that is. They keep it simple with the lyrical repetition of the main title & get the most out of that moment as a result.
Lastly, I’ve got the “Outro” and…oh boy…I mean…let’s just say it’s about as strange as this whole experience has been throughout these three reviews, shall we? I’m still desperately trying to erase Agent Orange, aka Mango Unchained, aka #45, aka Trumpster Fire, aka etc. from my mind, so I ain’t gonna lie to ya…even the slightest reminder that he still exists is somewhat painful – I proudly own my Trump Derangement Syndrome, and wear it like a badge of honor. But I’d like to put that badge away for good, were that any kind of possibility, which it quite frankly, is not. Does this album need the Trump-style “Outro?” No. Does it hurt the record? Also no. Does it leave us on the strange vibes that the whole experience of listening to No Serial Killer have provided all along? Most definitely, yes. Not gonna lie to ya…I never felt like I figured this project out, even with as much time as I’ve spent listening to’em…No Serial Killer is one of those once-in-a-lifetime musical oddities that could very well go on to become a full-on cult classic, I’d never deny that. Not entirely sure it’s gonna be for everyone or for everyday consumption…but in terms of creating an experience you’ll definitely remember for the rest of your very existence…I mean…you kinda gotta really hand it to them for that – I’ll never forget No Serial Killer, that I’ll guarantee ya. Chances are if you listen to this eighty-three song set, you’ll feel the same.
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