Universal Time Constant
By: Eric Greenwood
Serotonin"s aggressive emo suffers from an overly complex musical base and a rushed sense of melody, among other things. The guitars surge, but they were recorded so poorly that the effect is limp. In terms of dynamics, the band whips through its changes flawlessly- it"s just that the changes themselves are ineffective for the most part. There"s no emotion or tension in the stop/start assault. The vocals when screamed (as on the title track) seem to have a positive impact on the music, but often times the singing parts drag the songs down into bland emo territory.
For some reason angry emo is much more tolerable than the sappy Saves The Day/Promise Ring/Get Up Kids kind. To Serotonin"s credit, I"m sure "emo" would not be a term it would pick to describe itself. But when your songs aren"t about squeezing Cleveland Steamers on Playboy Bunnies and you play aggressive and technical punk with any semblance of sincerity you tend to get lumped in the emo bin. I don"t want to drag this down into a discussion of what "emo" is because I think you follow me.
"Broken Canvas" starts off with a clean guitar jangle and a propulsive rhythm section. The vocals are whiny and fairly obnoxious. The verse is interrupted by a busy interlude with a lot of notes but not a lot of purpose other than to say, "this is neither the verse nor the chorus." Fear not- the blast of guitars is just another run through the verse away. You can tell because the whine gets a little louder the second time through. The crashing guitars come complete with pick slides. Rock on. The musicianship is impressive in a very cold, precise, and technical way, but the band could work on its songwriting skills.
The area that needs the most work, however, is the singing. The nasally whine is borderline unlistenable. And whining louder for an emotional impact is never an advisable technique, unless you"re trying to be funny. This flaw is most evident on "Eyes Reflecting Images"- a meandering stew of inexplicable changes and random bursts of explosive energy. Serotonin just forces way too many notes into each part. Why? To show off its musical prowess? And taking five minutes to express some vague notion of shyness and regret is wholly unnecessary.
The quartet of musicians that comprises Serotonin obviously knows how to play its instruments, but it sorely needs to simplify things in order to make its songs more memorable. As it is now, these intermittent rages and changes go in one ear and out the other without sticking.