By The New Amsterdams
Story like a Scar opens with two undeniably perfect tracks defining the album genre as mellow folk. The New Amsterdams incorporate country-style instruments such as a harmonica, banjo and stand-up bass for a brilliant effect. The video of Turn Out the Light assists the song's creation of reflective nostalgia as in it the band row gently down a river in golden twilight.
Unfortunately the next two songs break the mood with short interruptions of mid-tempo rock. Bad Liar was written about the break up of vocalist Matthew Pryor's original band The Get Up Kids. It's ironic that the song proclaiming goodbye to his old band returns to its punkish style to say it. The other shorter tracks on the album, Intelligent Design and Calendar Days, also feel like an obstacle to the album's real intention. Despite their foot-tapping charms, Calendar Days being especially catchy, I can't help but feel that consistency rather than variety would have benefited Story of a Scar most. More prominent use of the country instruments that complimented the first two tracks so well would have helped the band finally escape Pryor's Get up Kids shackles.
Your Ghost returns to the originally established genre with a tinge of slow jazz, as gentler vocals and hissing drums warm up to an angry instrumental. Beautiful Mistake demonstrates Pryor's knack for using simple rhymes without sounding childish or forced, and finally Small Crusade settles back into the reflective atmosphere of Turn Out the Light. The New Amsterdams create a first-take, almost freestyle sound with this track that forces the listener into relaxation. In fact, had it not been for the central short tracks, Story like a Scar would be a masterpiece of reflective placidity.