Review Summary: This is art. Growing up from previous releases, they craft an album that makes you laugh, cry, feel the music, and in the end, just smile at the irony of it all.
I would like to start with a friend I have in my life, one who's far from an ordinary one. One who is the greatest person to me, and we share some truly amazing moments. She introduced me to Trophy Scars
many years long ago, and we became infatuated with everything they've done. From creative guitar work, beautiful yet harsh melodies, and the ever-impressive use of lyrics, we were hooked. So we agreed that I would make the three hour trek to see her on Bad Luck's
release date. Sadly, things have come up and canceled those plans, but an alternative was found. Locked in a sound-proof recording studio with surround sound and the album, I felt something I'll never forget.
Music has always been around to make you feel. And whoever can do that can be sifted through the mess of every other band. Maybe I'm overly excited, maybe I didn't get enough sleep, or maybe I'm just crazy, but that album made me feel. Listening to it, I laughed at some parts, teared up at others, and in the end, just smiled at the irony of it all.
Bad Luck was born from the life of the band prior to the release. From the concept of tragic happenings from ‘random’ circumstances was pivotal in the writing. For example, a good friend of the band was crossing the street, got hit by a car, and that was that for his life. Another event that gave birth to the album was the difficulties the band faced leading up to their hiatus. Cancelled plans for a tour left them penniless, and with broken spirits, they pondered the future of their band. And from that thinking, this was born. Every past release of theirs has been stunning, but compared to this, they just wrote some songs. Bad Luck
Although the CD doesn’t really pick up until “Anna Lucia”, you get the immediate impression that Trophy Scars haven’t wasted the three years preparation that went into this album. Maturity is almost imminent in most bands, but Trophy Scars picks off most the flaws that held Alphabet. Alphabets.
back with a vengeance. Their previous release was like a struggle against growing up. Singing about being young, the challenges of growing up, and dabbling into styles they weren’t prepared for were the flaws that brought down Alphabets. Awkward jazzy moments, lack-luster piano sections and cluttered layering created an unfortunate but still memorable clash of beauty and immaturity.
On Bad Luck
, several things changed for the bands sound. The drummer now has the experienced flair of a jazz drummer, piano is present and effective in every song, and the production is beyond top notch. The sound is no longer cluttered; they mix acoustic guitar, electric guitars, drums, bass, strings, piano, and whatever else flawlessly. While some of this occasionally tends to drown out Jerry’s voice, you usually can’t understand what the hell he’s saying anyways.
On that note, if you’ve ever heard Trophy Scars before, you know their singer is an acquired taste.
I'm more of a writer than a singer. I'm actually surprised people have allowed me to sing for so long without serious ridicule! A lot of our close fans, I think, recognize this. – Jerry Jones
While Jerry Jones has always had an off-the-wall take on vocals, this CD features his most ambitious attempts yet. He weaves in and out of singing, screaming, growling, rag-time, grunting, whispering, moaning, and anything in between. While El Cowboy Rojo
features his strangest performance to date, you can’t help but appreciate his style. Unfortunately, some tracks like Botanicas
leave you wondering if he really tried. While this is the weakest track on the album, it illustrates some of the flaws. Sometimes during the album, it appears the vocalist doesn't try very hard, either with lyrics or singing. With an unpleasantly lazy voice, he sings "I swear to god I've only been to three botanicas / A holy sermon and two bars under candlelight / And I was cleansed at all but the only problem was / I can't remember anything or what the problem was
". Parts like this gives the impression less effort went into some sections of the album. This flaw is recovered by the rest of the album which feature drastic improvements in planning, writing, and execution.
The guitarists have also stepped up their game drastically, switching from the repetitive octaves and power chords that plagued some of their earlier releases. They switch from ambient chords to bluesy solos and jazzy intervals perfectly. Ambient chordal backgrounds and bluesy leads are evident during most of the songs. It isn’t forced or awkward; it’s perfectly natural and mature. The guitarist’s performance coupled with tasteful piano and jazzy drums helps weave the stories Jerry tells with his lyrics into an organic, original masterpiece.
Those lyrics have always been a defining part of Trophy Scars. The use of introspection, beauty, human nature, and drugs have always allowed Jerry Jones to have some of the most beautiful lyrics. On this album, he takes more of a storytelling approach. From Geneva
to Years So Much
is an intricate story filled with enough twists to be an M. Night Shyamalan movie. Although Jerry’s distorted singing makes many parts hard to decipher, the way the music flows in and out with the story is incredibly effective nonetheless.
is a step up for the band. They bring out everything they can to make this a memorable listen. Their new flair for jazz (Think saxophone solos.) is a welcome respite from the near-sceney direction they were headed. Trophy Scars
prove with this album that everyone grows up, and maybe that’s not always a bad thing.
It’ll take more than Bad Luck just to kill Trophy Scars.