Review Summary: Jerry Jones is a beast that needs to be caged.
Jerry Jones is not a singer. This is incredibly apparent after listening to just a little bit of the New Jersey band's debut record, Darts to the Sea. His cracking, broken voice on, for instance, Baby Eskimo Kisses is, however, what makes the song. He might be horrible at singing, but his mumbly and occasionally slurred delivery somehow fits perfectly with Trophy Scars. He's not even really a lead vocalist. Throughout most of the songs, his fellow bandmates get just as much mic time as he does due to the copious amounts of gang vocals.
So what happens when you hit Play? Crunching, almost grungy guitars slam into you, and Jerry starts mumble-singing. And then, some shouting! For a non-singer, he's pretty good at this. And the rest of the band is also pretty good; While Jones mumbles "tonight I dream, I dream of New Orleans" the bass guitar is rumbling along, making your expensive subwoofer seem like a real good purchase. And guitarist John Ferrara is playing a nice twinkling melody. When the chorus comes, everything explodes, however. Jones' vocals go from mumbles to somewhere between screaming and shouting, and Ferrara's melodies suddenly become violent. The outro to Dreams of New Orleans is a very impressive moment, and Trophy Scars follow it up perfectly with "Rachel, I Think He's Dead" They Screamed.
In this second track, Jones is screaming. Full-blown screaming. Not half-shouting with a melody, actually screaming. Once he starts singing again, the contrast is incredible. And Trophy Scars blunder through their debut this way. Jones mumbling over loud bass progressions, and explosive choruses litter the record, but the pattern never seems boring or fully exhausted. They spice it up with just enough different tracks in between bass verse dominant songs.
Trophy Scars also loves the gimmick of having multiple band members talking at the same time. They walk the fine line between using it a few times and overusing it, but they never end up overwhelming the listener. Songs like I Play Piano showcase this talent of theirs, with everyone mumbling stuff. It sounds fantastic, it really does.
While most of what Trophy Scars does could easily be called terrible on its own but is somehow sheer genius with the rest of the band, there are a few things that they don't quite pull off. First and foremost, the production quality is annoying. The bass is far too dominant most of the time, with guitar melodies nearly always being hard to pick out. The production is fine besides that, but it's a very damning flaw if there ever was one. Jones' lyrics are also very hit-or-miss. While his oddly poetic, colloquial, rambling style works well in songs like Dreams of New Orleans, the oddness falls flat on its face in songs like I Play Piano, for example.
Conversely, just about everything else Trophy Scars does is great. When Jones mumbles his way through Hospital For Ghosts, and starts screaming about being left to drown, I feel like he's screaming at me. His delivery is fantastic. And, of course, the melodies beneath him are both beautiful and incisive at the same time. Jerry Jones is easily the best worst singer I've ever heard.