The New Amsterdams - Story Like a Scar (Cover Artwork)

The New Amsterdams

Story Like a Scar (2006)


The New Amsterdams' latest album Story Like a Scar was just released on March 21st, and when compared to their last effort Worse for the Wear, one can't help but to feel overall disappointment. I wanted this to become my new favorite record. I wanted to love this album, but I just couldn't force myself to do it. The New Amsterdams seem to go back to the earlier days with seemingly simpler instrument arrangements, but this doesn't really emphasize the vocals and lyrics like it should. Also, the use of a harmonica has not made a return on this album.

It's not to say that this album is completely terrible, there are just certain problems with it. For one thing, old fans' expectations are pretty high and this album just doesn't live up to it. Another thing is that this band is known for releasing demos on their website. The Killed or Cured LP is awesome and could be downloaded in its ten-song entirety on their website, along with B-sides from Story Like a Scar and tracks from their previous albums. These demos added to the expectations for this album and makes listeners wonder what could have been. F.e., "Full Thunder Moon" is a track on Killed or Cured which is better than most of Story Like a Scar's tracks.

There is certainly some standout tracks here, though. "Turn Out the Light" and "Calendar Days" are both great songs, but they get lost in the rest of the CD. Not to mention that the last track, "Turn Out the Light Reprise" ends the album with us thinking that the full version of "Turn Out the Lights" could have been that much better. "Your Ghost," which is placed in the middle of the album, brings the flow to a screeching halt. "Intelligent Design" tries to pick the pace up again, but ends up sounding totally out of place.

It would be wrong to say that this album sucks, because it doesn't. It's a good album in its own right and would probably be received as a great debut album for a different band. But, when long-time fans of the New Amsterdams pick up this album I would be shocked if there wasn't at least a little bit of disappointment from them. If this album is your first into the catalog of the New Amsterdams, you probably won't be disappointed, and as you go into their past albums you will just become more of a fan. The New Amsterdams are a great band, this just so happens to be a less than great album.