For their second album, New Jersey post-hardcore act the Trophy Scars move into a more willfully experimental take on the standards of the genre. The mixing sessions were apparently quite a party, because Goodnight Alchemy has a sound field akin to a particularly wiggy dub reggae album, with instruments and vocals circling the speakers and crashing in and out of the album's thick, murky mix almost at random. Found sounds, spoken word passages, and other sonic ephemera (including, inexplicably, the sound of a woman's orgasm at the climax, so to speak, of the centerpiece "Traps and Tricks and Such") punctuate the songs at odd intervals. So all of that is quite interesting, but unfortunately, all the cool sonic trickery simply points up what a fundamentally dull selection of songs this is. Jerry Jones' lyrics provide the occasional chuckle, many of them intentional, but his delivery is wooden and stiff even on the manic, thrashy material like the closing punch of "Lesson 3" and "Lesson 4," and the tunes themselves are fairly pedestrian. Not a bad album so much as an unsatisfying one that doesn't deliver as much as it promises, Goodnight Alchemy has the sound of a band whose reach is, for the moment, exceeding its grasp.
Goodnight Alchemy Review
by Stewart Mason