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Album Review // TROPHY EYES ‘The American Dream’

Trophy Eyes return with The American Dream, an album that redefines them in every possible way.

From self-loathing and self-doubt, to dealing with aggression and fear, to finding strength in weakness and dreams, Trophy Eyes come full circle to a place where they were always headed.

It was 2016 when frontman John Floreani found himself dropped in Burleson, Texas, 8,500 miles away from his hometown of Sydney, Australia. Accompanied by the bustling cowboy bars, the nightly symphony of crickets and bright flicker of lightning bugs, he poured his new experiences into music, laying the foundation of a new era for the band.

Moving away from the full-throttled punk grittiness that determined their previous records, 2014’s Mend, Move On and 2016’s Chemical Miracle, Trophy Eyes rearrange themselves on The American Dream. Diminishing their signature breakneck tempos and gutsy attitude, the new album sees them at their most exposed and vulnerable, and as honest as ever before.

Change in the band’s musical direction is evident from the very start. Wrapped up in a catchy and melodic glow, the opener Autumn is an introspective and personal journey to the depths of the past and uncertainty about the future. The electronic solutions come out refreshing and relatable context – reassuring, because “we’re all still figuring out what we’re doing here” from time to time.

The American Dream is a bold statement from the band and nothing says it more than You Can Count On Me. A commentary on the artist-listener relationship and declaration of Trophy Eyes reclaiming their art, the track brilliantly translates ironic twists into anthemic hooks, as we hear “Some of my friends sell drugs / But I just sell sad songs / To the ones who feel alone / You can count on me when it all goes wrong”.

The album is packed with singalong moments galore. The chant arrangements and tempo shifting shine on Something Bigger Than This, sending us a hopeful and uniting message that “we were born for something bigger than this”. On the other hand, we’ve got the brutally honest More Like You that significantly echoes with self-loathing, ambiguity and lack of faith. On the sonic side however, it is one of the most striking tracks on the record as Floreani’s frenzied roars finally kick in and join the choir-like moments.

A deep reflection on life keeps re-surfacing on the album. As the propulsive drums lead us down the path of self-discovery in the empowering cut Broken, the crushing guitars open Lavender Bay, masterfully falling into the tribal chorus. Elsewhere on the record, the restless Miming In The Choir hits us with an outburst of anger exposing Floreani’s expansive vocal range in a quite intriguing manner.

Delving deeper and reaching further in their experimental songwriting approach, Trophy Eyes create moments of grandiose beauty. Piano-led A Cotton Candy Sky paints a contrast between subtle vocal layering and a haunting melody, whilst the acoustic Tip Toe is an emotional heart-wrenching tune that fails to lull us to sleep. Next, we hear a strong declaration of love on A Symphony Of Crickets that places us right in the middle of the Texas landscape.

Facing the past and accepting the present, Trophy Eyes round off with the track I Can Feel It Calling, which blends their hard-hitting roots with newly found sensibility, a maneuver that is sure to propel them forward into the future.

The American Dream is a moment in time. Always pushing themselves to new heights without ever forgetting where they came from, Trophy Eyes release a compilation of stories that hurt and heal, provoke and soothe, while not risking its unwavering integrity not even for a second. And what tells stories better than music.