Wow! It isn’t very often that a 64-track album lands in the review pile, I had sort of thought that such hefty sonic tomes had gone out with the likes of Yes and The Clash’s weirder late period. But No Serial Killer seems to have brought the concept back with style. And concept is the right word as the whole album is pushing a very worthy agenda, one that seeks to tackle issues surrounding mental health, pressure, anxiety and violence in society, and highlights the importance of identifying people living on the edge, which might actually be yourself and drawing them back before they become lost causes.
But for an album with such heavy and poignant undertones, it has an unexpectedly light feel, built of waves of piano, layered to contribute bass, rhythm, lead and melodic parts as required. But a darkness lurks behind such perceived lightness. Tracks such as Know Cereal Killa sum this up best, a chirpy number about admiring someone from afar which slowly descends into a tale of rejection and then realisation…the conclusion left open to interpretation.
Some of the songs seem sweet enough, Close Ta You is a song of ultimate love and Baby is the soundtrack to a wild night out but it is the context of the songs within the album which adds the extra depth, surrounded as they are by an almost unspoken vibe which might suggest that the narratives being told here are not as innocent and face value as they may seem. But, then again, perhaps they are and I’m reading too much into things at times.
Songs such as Misfit are less ambiguous, a character assassination of the finest order but sung in the sweetest tones, the equivalent of smiling whilst you plunge the knife, metaphorical or otherwise, in slowly.
Musically many of the songs ride on an upbeat piano groove, injecting energy and infectiousness into even the most troubled and considered subjects. Cool guitar work and underpinning left-hand piano chords fill out the sonic space and the sweet female voice acts as the perfect juxtaposition for such heart-felt and often heart-aching subjects.
I guess the overall message of this extensive album is that it is okay not to follow society’s ideas of normality, that once you realise that it is okay to be unique, different, a freak even, then you can get on with your life and the stress and pressure of conformity, the things that often tip people over the edge, go away, or at least become manageable. Wise words indeed.