Trophy Eyes - 'The American Dream'
'The American Dream' by Trophy Eyes is a meandering exploration into the heart of rock, full of anthemic choruses, widely diverse sounds and honest storytelling. Much like the title suggests, 'The American Dream' is full of hope and camaraderie, and harks back to the halcyon days of childhoods, where everything is possible and the sky is the limit- and it is the best rock album I've heard this year.
Trophy Eyes are a rock band from Newcastle, New South Wales in Australia, consisting of John Floreani, Jeremy Winchester, Kevin Cross, Andrew Hallett, and drummer Blake Caruso. Having formed in 2013, 'The American Dream' is their third album and marks a significant change from the sweat-soaked screams of their debut, 'Mend, Move on' or sophomore album 'Chemical Miracle'. The band's new sound all came about after Floreani relocated to Texas to be with his girlfriend in 2016. The move signalled an escape for Floreani, who was able to run 'away from the shitty things [he] was living in back in Sydney', and enabled him to start afresh on an album which aims to demonstrate where his life is at this point in time.
On my first listen, I was worried that 'The American Dream' came from the same genre of polished rock music as many albums released nowadays do. On some songs, such as opener 'Autumn', or their triumphantly retrospective new single 'Friday Forever', it seems to rely on the same formula- relatable lyrics over slightly generic rock music- which, although resulting in good, easy to listen to rock music, also carries the risk of songs becoming indistinguishable from each other.
But then it goes and subverts that notion by flipping it on its head, with songs such as 'A Cotton Candy Sky'; a dark ballad with a strong reliance on Floreani's vocals, along with soft piano and the sound of thunder and rain in the background- more reminiscent of offerings by The National in recent years than their previous work. Likewise, my personal favourite 'Tip Toe', featuring strings and the quiet sound of a guitar in the background, is laden with pathos, and symbolises a welcome change in the album's dynamic, shifting from high-octane, polished pop-rock into a soft rock ballad which slowly builds up momentum before culminating in a passionate outcry from Floreani, regretting the times he's missed due to being 'busy, like [he] always [is]'. This regretful rumination ends as suddenly as it began, however; the tempo quickly picks back up, launching into the upbeat 'Lavender Bay' and 'Miming In The Choir', a song which seems almost existential in nature- 'we live our lives to die alone... we can't sleep/ we can't dream/ we are miming in the choir'. Again, Trophy Eyes subvert expectations here by transitioning into the haunting beauty of 'A Symphony Of Crickets', a short acoustic song accompanied by the sound of crickets- stemming from the nightly soundtrack of Texas- focussing primarily on the dynamics of the harmonies of Floreani and Winchester.
The final song, 'I Can Hear It Calling', heralds promises of Floreani 'burning up in the atmosphere', telling listeners that 'if you blink you're gonna fucking miss me'- a heart pounding final hurrah of 'The American Dream'. In this way the song acts as a representation of the album as a whole- although boasting 12 songs, it is only 39 minutes long, with an average track length of about 3:15- which is fine, because that gives you an excuse to listen to the full album again and again, and let 'The American Dream' whisk you away.
A tremendous album which offers the same hope as the title suggests- the promise of freedom and liberty from musical blandness by delivering twelve thoroughly diverse and equally brilliant songs. I cannot recommend it enough.
Album Review by James O'Sullivan