“SEROTONIA”

Highly Suspect‘s newly released “Serotonia,” is similar to the rest of their discography in its honesty, yet symbolic of transition, marking a shift from east to west and all the states of mind that come with it. The track reverberates with the token phrase of “California dreamin,” embodying the wayward spirit of those who have left for Hollywood through the years only to crawl back seasoned and withered, or, with a little bit of luck, sun-kissed and awash with the glow of the boulevard.

The song is steeped in optimism, though the video reflects a certain cynicism. In it, we are met with a close-up shot of vocalist Johnny Stevens, frozen and stoic, a slight glint of Jimmy Dean in his eye. Around him, past a shell of a room, lies the California desert, blue skies and stretched horizon. It’s all there, the sun- bleached trailer shack, the pick-up truck, crosses in the sand- the quintessential lonesome American landscape. As the track progresses, the camera flits between clips from a New York winter, achingly white and industrial. It’s a stark contrast, the city (and person) being left behind versus the place on the other side; a dried- up promised land that has the power to steer an individual away from what they’ve become. “I’m gonna move to California,” croons Stevens, practically mouthing the guitar solo.

Rich and Ryan Meyer take over the build-up, articulating something slow and prowling, a sonic accompaniment to the carnal desire for the West that defines the track. The song is a reflection on an inner change that is to come, as well as a physical one, and the video offers a visual comparison of a past and a future, skewing the romance of the golden state yet never completely letting it go. Despite the underlying cynicism, I consider it a song of joy; an awakening and a metamorphosis. The title, a play on the brain’s good mood chemical serotonin, coupled with the line “I think I wanna be alive,” is a celebration of possibility, and Stevens confirms this towards the end of the video with a shaking, euphoric laugh and a long, hard gaze into the distance.

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