With their prominent use of piano, progressive rock guitar solos, and occasional feints towards hip-hop and funk rhythms, post-hardcore act the Trophy Scars have a wider range of influences and musical shadings than many similar bands, at times sounding like the '80s art rock U.K. group Talk Talk given an emo makeover. Similarly, singer Jerry Jones evinces a subtle, sardonic sense of humor; for some reason, he also mentions his own name in his lyrics and song titles more often than anyone since Vanilla Ice.
The quintet formed in Morristown, NJ, in 2001, featuring Jones, guitarist and pianist John Ferrara, lead guitarist A.J. Hanson, bassist Joshua Weinstein, and drummer Brian Ferrara. After a growing live reputation led to a self-released 2002 EP called Darts to the Sea (reissued in expanded form with a second disc of contemporaneous demos in March 2006) and a 2003 full-length titled Hospital Music for the Aesthetics of Language, the band signed to the indie label The Death Scene Recording Company, which reissued the latter release in 2004 and facilitated an appearance on that summer's iteration of the lucrative Vans Warped Tour. The more experimental and piano-based Goodnight Alchemy followed in June 2005, after which Weinstein left the band, replaced by Andy Farrell. Alphabet. Alphabets., the band's fourth album, was released in June 2006, increasing the Trophy Scars' hip-hop influence by featuring guest appearances by New Jersey underground rapper Kadence Posse on the tracks "Assassin, Assassins" and "Accent, Accents."