Serial Thrillers – Self-Titled

Serial Thrillers - Self-Titled

Serial Thrillers - Self-Titled

This duo from Boston consists of singer/songwriter Paul Ortolano and Stephen Clements, both having worked together in several previous bands, and are no new comers to the music scene.  The album has crystal clear production thanks to the skills of Anthony J. Resta of such bands as Collective Soul and Perry Ferrell.  The music of the Serial Thrillers is super charged with a driving guitar-based energy, serious riffs and influences ranging from pop to post-grunge.

“Defied”, with guest drummer Ryan Hoyle of Collective Soul, starts the album off well with an infectious tune that marks the most radio-friendly, pop track on the album and reminiscent of something that might come from Nada Surf.  The song features tight vocal harmonies over nicely layered instrumentation of catchy guitars and percussion with riffs cutting in now and then.    

And right when I started to think this album was going to be a fairly mellow yet catchy pop set, the next track came on and completely changed the tone.  “Unattractive” dives onto the scene with a sadly dated rock song with far too much guitar and silly lyrics like, “you look so nice / wearing out your pieces of advice”.  The song is clean and polished with good harmonies, though I just can’t help but laugh at the thought of it actually being a new song and not something that was uncovered from a couple decades ago.  This is especially noticable when the electric guitar solo appears.  It’s not a bad guitar solo and not a single instrumental note is out of tune or played badly, but the whole thing is just out of place.

Ortolano’s vocals sit somewhere between Nada Surf’s Matthew Caws and vocalist Brandon Boyd of Incubus.  In “Fine” both the voice and the music leans a bit towards the latter group with brushed percussion and spacey distorted guitars floating amidst a rockin’ chorus.  “Forgive” also feels the Incubus influence but more in the harmonies, tone and pace.  This lovely, slower paced acoustic tune is filled with soft, beautifully harmonized vocals and a hint of flute but with a persistent beat that keeps it moving along.

They band claims that their sound is a “powerful taste of edgy pop revisiting classic album rock”.  I’ll agree with this description but, overall, this album feels a bit scattered; perhaps in an attempt to span across too many genres.  While some songs clearly want to be pop with catchy lyrics and toe-tapping music and others want to tone it down a bit and show a softer side, others head off in another direction altogether with guitar riffs flying in all directions in some sort of attempt to capture a more classic rock style.  There’s no question they know how to handle a guitar but I don’t think this style is working as well for them.  Instead of feeling timeless, it is coming across cheesy and dated in a few tracks like “Unattractive” especially. 

The duo have amassed a collection of songs that are technically clean and polished with consistently strong and solid instrumentation.  The vocals shine throughout with nicely layered harmonies which have the ability to traverse between rock and heartfelt pop.  While the album doesn’t showcase a consistently stellar collection from beginning to end, there are plenty of shining moments within that make this debut a good step onto the music scene for the Serial Thrillers.  

Serial Thrillers