The New Amsterdams

Story Like a Scar

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Story Like a Scar is technically the New Amsterdams' fourth release. It only gets this distinction, however, because the supposedly bleaker Killed or Cured got shelved so Matt Pryor and crew could instead hash out new songs that were quickly becoming Story Like a Scar. So it must be said that curiosity was piqued to see what the group had produced to cause abandonment of the previous record. Masters of introspective music perfect for both extended night driving in solitude and sunny afternoon moments of relaxation, the New Amsterdams show off both sides on this album. "The Death of Us" starts the album softly with light-feeling instrumentation, highlighted by gentle drumming and a sweeping harmonica laid under Pryor's trademark earnest and tender voice. "Turn Out the Light" remains gently warm and sentimental amid handclaps, while the short blast of "Intelligent Design" is by far the hardest rocking (by the band's standards) of the album. And the sparse, barely audible "Your Ghost" brings to mind Pryor hunched over in the corner of a dark, smoky jazz bar singing to no one. Taken alone, the songs are enjoyable and affecting numbers that will no doubt find one contentedly tapping along at times on one's steering wheel. However, on an album level, the songs don't always flow with one another and by the end, Story Like a Scar just seems a bit unfinished. With Pryor's desire to finish this record instead of releasing the other one, expectations might have been raised too high as the album finishes almost too soon, leaving one with a feeling of wanting something more.

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