Amateur Best – No Thrills

Amateur Best layer elements of electronica with poppy, soulful harmonies but the most distinguishable feature comes from Joe Flory’s vocals. They aren’t digitally over-corrected or even better than an average singer. Though his voice is quite normal, it has the same intimacy of a bleary James Murphy; honestly faulted and increasingly personable.

Throughout No Thrills, Flory’s melancholic lyrics are accompanied by some strong production work and fascinating composition. The group vocals on “Villas” bring an unexpected depth to the track that slowly builds into a full-on celebration. The album opener, “Ready For The Good Life,” is welcoming, and not just because Chilly Gonzalez contributes some wonderful piano accompaniment, but because Flory introduces his persona with tact; an aged soul, infected with crippling emotional wanderlust. He romanticizes himself similarly to a lounge crooner that is just now starting to dabble in electro-pop, and doing it with more personality than most.

However, his undying reluctance to be happy has an omnipotent grasp on the record.  Even on a track like “Pleased,” where he sings “there is chaos/there is peace/but I’m pleased to say/that you have run away with me” Flory still sounds unsure.  “Be Happy,” boasts the lyrics, “if it never gets better/ then what/do we do?” and, honestly, Flory doesn’t seem all that interested in resting his concerns. However, his downtrodden candor somehow remains appealing throughout No Thrills.

Some tracks tend to wander, like the chorus-heavy “The Wave” and the recurring horn sample on “Walk In Three.” The rest of No Thrills is so colorful and detail-oriented, that these songs seem extraordinarily dry.  The beat on album-closer “No Thrills” is similarly disappointing, especially after experiencing a how differently colorful the rest of the album sounds.

No Thrills delves into a sect of electro-pop that hasn’t been fully developed. Sure, there are countless bands that’ve made names for themselves by simply singing about sadness, but Flory expedites his despair beyond sadness and lands somewhere in his coping period. For him, it seems bad luck is inevitable, so why not make sure you at least sound awesome when dealing with it? No Thrills is a promising debut for Amateur Best and points to a, hopefully, bountiful future.