Trophy Eyes – The American Dream (Review)

Trophy Eyes released one of the biggest albums of 2016 with Chemical MiracleAfter that, and the release of their single “Hurt”, the hype for this brand new album, The American Dream, couldn’t be higher. Singles from the album “You Can Count On Me”, and “More Like You”, have been adored by fans, setting up the album to be their best work yet.

Known for their impactful lyricism, and sumptuous instrumentals, the illustrious Newcastle group make a clear statement with their upcoming album: They have a new sound and they are here to make the music they want to make. Lucky for us the music they want to make is incredible. The quintet is made up of John Floreani (vocals), Kevin Cross (guitar), Andrew Hallat (guitar), Jeremy Winchester (bass), and Blake Caruso (drums).

The opening track for The American Dream is “Autumn”. It demonstrates as soon as it begins that this is a slight adjustment to their old sound. Early focus is on the melodious vocals, which are the main feature of the slow opening verses. The instrumentals are very lightly toned, as if they are the sun rays shining through the dark clouds, lighting up the whole song and putting a smile on our faces. The chorus is exactly what you want from a Trophy Eyes song, as John’s luxurious vocals take us by the hand and welcome us to the album.

Reminiscing is a heavy theme of this track, as John describes some big moments from his life. I close my eyes and I see it; the flashes and glimpses of the past, constantly flying by as you go through life. People you love, the good times, and the bad, it all shows up inside your mind and plays itself like a movie. Laughing, crying, sighing. It’s all a part of existing, and it all impacts you in some way that you will never forget. That’s what the song is about; how all these moments that mean so much to you can pop up at any time regardless of what you are doing.

Musically speaking, the constant ringing guitar work in the verses of “Autumn” makes you reflect upon yourself, and they also craft a reminiscing tone. All you want to do is dance and sing as you listen, taking in the chorus and the incredibly strengthening instrumentals. If you close your eyes you can truly take in what a spectacle the Trophy Eyes sound as a whole is, and how untouchable it is. “Autumn” is a killer start to an album.

“Something Bigger Than This” begins what will become one of the biggest singalongs of the album. Anthemic yelling/singing has become a Trophy Eyes staple, and I can already picture the fans singing along to this one. The instrumentals are catchy, and you will find yourself humming the riffs for hours on end after listening. The gritty vocals rush into your ears like a smooth sandpaper, and make you straight up feel things. Whether it’s the harsh screams where you feel like you’re being punched in the throat, or the harmonic melodies where it seems like he is hugging you and telling you it’ll all be okay, what Trophy Eyes are creating is very very emotively effective.

“Something Bigger Than This” is about the world, and contemplating your place in it, and John spoke about the inspiration behind it in our recent interview. But this song speaks to you, and makes you think about who you are. You consider your position in life, and how it compares to others: Is this what you’re meant to be doing? The lyrics make you think, and hit you in the heart as they do so. The bridge and final chorus of the song is a huge anthem, and I can see the pyro and the lights flashing as I listen to it. This is going to be a massive love-fest live.

“Friday Forever” is quite a different song instrumentally to others on the album. It takes a faster, yet somehow softer approach, and has some very light-hearted vibes coming from it. The guitars are very high pitched and harmonic, and set the mood for the huge singalongs and the catchy chorus. This is also added to by the orchestral stringwork type of sounds that are ever present in the background.

“Is this what the clouds feel like, never really happy just quiet and polite, surrounded and lonely at the same time.” 

“Friday Forever” is about loneliness, and how it can be a state of mind rather than a result of your surroundings. The verses speak of missing someone, and how lying next to someone you love can feel like heaven. As you lay there, laughing until the tears are running down your cheeks, the hours pass and pass. Sleep doesn’t look likely, and you don’t want it to come anyway. There is no place you would rather be, and sunrise seems like Satan himself is coming to ruin this euphoric state of elation and happiness that you’re currently in. Having to go about your day after this is hell. As spoken of in the huge singalong verses, you will be surrounded by people. They may be friends or family, but it doesn’t matter. If you have that special person, you can feel completely alone when they aren’t around. While not necessarily healthy, it is a state of mind that some can experience, and they suffer through it.

 

“More Like You” features some huge suspenseful verses which hit you like a truck. John displays his immense talent for screaming in this song in particular, and wow is it good. These strong verses vocally and instrumentally repeatedly set up to what sounds like is going to be a huge chorus, however if I’m honest? It disappoints. I respect them for trying something different and more melodic for their chorus, but I think it really hits the pacing of the song, and kills a lot of the energy the rest of the song builds it. This isn’t to say I don’t really enjoy it as a song, because I do, it just doesn’t impress me as much as the other songs on the album.

The ending to “More Like You” is enjoyable though. The use of the bongos and the added backing vocals make it seem like something I could see myself hearing in a Disney movie, and it is my favourite part of this song apart from John’s brutal screams.

Lyrically, “More Like You” is about not being happy with who you are, and how rough it can be going through life despising yourself. Constantly receiving criticism from others, and constantly feeling down on yourself, it’s hard. You have to love yourself and accept who you are, because being who you are is awesome. This song speaks of the darkness of it all, and really hits hard if it is something you have experienced.

“Obsessive compulsive routine of burning the memories of all my failings so I don’t flinch at my reflections.”

“A Cotton Candy Sky” is a short and moody song which is a moment to take a breath. Ominous rain can be heard, echoing in the background as it smashes into the concrete. Gloominess and melancholic emotions come piling out, as the acoustic guitar and piano combine to match John’s soft vocals. The whole thing appears to be a contemplative fantasy, as if it is coming from John’s dreams. This could be is happy place, as he finally has a home and feels like he belongs somewhere. The incoming storm and the laughter all combines to be an idealised scenario in his head, and it is truly what he wants. The song only goes for just less than two minutes, but “A Cotton Candy Sky” is a stunning mood setter, and slows down the pace right before the anthemic “You Can Count On Me.”

“You Can Count On Me” opens with it’s booming opening vocals: A chorus that will stick in your head for days, and verses that make you want to cry. This song is special.

“Some of my friends sell drugs, but I just sell sad songs,
to the ones that feel alone, you can count on me when it all goes wrong.”

Hard and fast, this song plays with pacing, slow and fast, soft and hard, like it is nothing, and it fucking nails it. John’s screams are a big feature of the verses, and lead us into an unreal guitar section in the bridge. The final chorus comes in with the instrumentals in tow this time, and creates a vibe that is indescribable. Inspiring. Breath-taking. Joy inducing. All of it involves putting a smile on your face and making you want to sing and dance. This song was the perfect first single to choose for the album, as it displays the new and amazing aspects of the Trophy Eyes sound, as well as the old parts that we know and love.

“You Can Count On Me” is clearly already adored by fans, evidenced by Trophy Eyes’ recent show at the Workers Club in Melbourne. As their set ended people began to chant “One more song!”. After several minutes of that to no avail, we began to sing “You Can Count On Me”, a song that as far as I know has never even been played live. The whole room of people sung it, all together, with no backing tracks or instruments, just their voices, and it was a special thing to be involved in.

 

“Broken” takes a more relaxed and rockier approach. The guitars and godly vocals set the tone at a slow and basic one, but this makes the song one of the stronger ones off of the album. The chorus is repetitive yet glory filled in its doing so, and speaks of hiding your sadness from the world. The instrumentals make you feel like you are lying on a cloud as you listen, held up by the symphony of guitars, bass, and drums. They hold you up to the heavens and let you see the whole world. Yeah, they’re good.

“Don’t let anyone see that you’re broken. Don’t let anyone in.”

John seems to be observing his mother going through a rough time, and heeding her advice as she tells him to hide how he’s feeling. The massive repeated anthem is the battle cry of an anxiety stricken generation, that has been taught to hide their emotions. Society tells us to behave in a certain way and it’s bullshit. This song is reflective of that view. Hide your emotions. Make sure you look happy. Smile. Keep up that act. It’s all done to comply with everyone else’s closed-minded raw joy at the world, as they ignore all the horribleness that goes on. You walk around with that huge smile plastered onto your face, almost like it’s painted on, making sure everyone knows how gosh darn fucking happy you are. Meanwhile on the inside you’re drowning. This song is the reflection of that view, and how unrealistic it is, saying to feel what you want to feel, and express yourself how you want to. That you’ll be better off, and it’ll all be okay.

A slow, almost acoustic song, “Tip Toe” involves more piano and acoustic guitar, and displays yet again the majesty of John’s vocals. The song seems to be about being away from someone you love, and how much it hurts. You both have your own lives to live but all you want to do is talk and be together. The anxiety and uncertainty that comes with loving someone like this is reflected in this song, as it shows that caring so much about someone can actually wreak havoc on your mind. Despite this, the nature of the relationship changes. It evolves to match the situation, whether that is good or bad, it evolves. The tone becomes very gloomy and dark, as John really bears his soul with this song.

“I’m busy. Like I always am.”

“Lavender Bay” is one of my favourites, and one of the lightest songs on the record, and has a very unique sound. You feel free, as the guitars sound like when you would stick a piece of cardboard to your bike wheel to make it sound like a motorbike. Immediately you want to dance, and you can’t wait for the vocals to kick in. The upbeat vocals and drumbeats set the tone for a gorgeous chorus. “Dadadada”‘s are in surplus, and holy shit this is catchy.

“I won’t sleep until Sydney knows my name,
I just wanna see my name light up the streets or it was all for nothing.”

This song is about following your dreams, and making the most of all the ambitions and passions you have. As the chorus plays through I see what it’s like: To be young, to have a dream, to be scared to chase it. ‘What if it goes wrong? What will I do then?’.

Finally you take the risk, and go for it. It feels like you are flying rapidly towards the sun, the future is bright but dangerous. The thrill is like a drug, and you follow it, hoping to eventually end up doing what you love. You soar through the sky, laughing and crying with joy, as the euphoria of knowing you are finally where you want to be in life is overwhelming.

This was actually the last song written on the album, and it came easily, as John explained in our interview: “We put “Lavender Bay” together in a couple of hours, and it was one of those songs that just came flying out. We were like ‘Wow this is epic!’ and it ended up getting the same amount of attention as every other song as we tightened it up, but yeah, it was probably one of the most natural songs we got to do and it all came so easily and it was great.”

“Miming In The Choir” starts soft and lyrically vulnerable, and lulls you into a false sense of security. You prepare yourself to cry at another soft song but then it kicks into gear. The pace increases and the vocals get harder. The verses are filled with powerful vibey instrumentals, and harsh emotional vocals. The tempo changes repeatedly, and this is also one of the highlight songs off the album. One of the larger singalongs is evident here as well, as I feel like I can already hear people outside my bedroom singing along with me as I listen. The backing ganglike vocals genuinely sound like there is a choir singing along with John, and it makes the chorus that much more powerful.

“We can’t sleep, we can’t dream, we are miming in the choir.”

As a phrase, “miming in the choir” means to be living life as if you are a spectator; observing without action. It’s not a lack of motivation, as you have plenty of reason to try and return to your old self, but you are so stuck in the rut of not being present and not giving a fuck you find it hard to care about anything anymore. The overwhelming desire is still there, wanting be loved and cared for, but making that happen seems like an impossible task. All this is reflected in the lyrics, and the passion shown behind the vocals.

“A Symphony Of Crickets” is a short acoustic song. Crickets can be heard, nearly overwhelming the whole song, as you feel like you are outside under the night sky. The vocals and guitar work seem quite heartfelt, and you can practically see the stars and feel the cold wind rushing against your skin. John sits in the dark, taking it in, and thinking deeply about the one that he loves. Though short, “A Symphony Of Crickets” is quite beautiful and meaningful.

“All I want to do is just take your hand and disappear.”

“I Can Feel It Calling” is huge from the second it starts. Each guitar string plucked twangs, and seems like an asteroid plummeting into the earth, echoing and shaking your whole essence. John’s vocals add to the strength of the song, setting up for what’s to come. Screaming and yelling, the vocals match the harder and faster sound as the song progresses, and you can see why several of the band members are saying that “I Can Feel It Calling” is their favourite.

The song is about distance (most likely the kind of distance from loved ones that musicians experience), and how awful that can be in a serious relationship. All you want to do is get back to this person, and that overarching goal of getting to them can be something truly inspiring to help get through every day. The suffering of yearning like this is hugely evident in the lyrics and the vocals. You close your eyes, no matter what is happening, you think of them, and you smile. It’s all gonna be okay. There’s also the power of inspiration to chase dreams; to burn out instead of having a safe and nothing existence.

People will cry to this song, and rightly so. It’s so beautifully written, lyrically and instrumentally. It is mixed perfectly, everything sounds amazing about this song. It brings everything together, and climaxes this album as if it is a cinematic piece written to be played at the Sydney Opera House. There isn’t a thing here that doesn’t work, and I couldn’t think of a more fitting ending to a beautiful sounding and amazingly creative album.

“Think of me when you’re alone and you can’t sleep,
I’m on the other side of the world doing the same thing.”

The American Dream is something special, there is no doubt about that. People may compare it to Chemical Miracle and Mend Move On and criticise its differences, but The American Dream clearly stands confidently alone. This album is a marvel of songwriting. It touches on so many important and impactful themes that everyone will be able to resonate with, and does so in a way that brings a tear to your eye with every listen.

Partly painting romanticised images of John’s idealistic life, and partly expressing darker thoughts and struggles, The American Dream is a place where you can start fresh, and that’s what this album is. Storytelling at its core, The American Dream gives you an unfiltered look into the souls of John Floreani, Jeremy Winchester, Kevin Cross, Andrew Hallat, and Blake Caruso. It displays several different sounds over the course of its runtime, and each feels like it firmly belongs there. It is a perfect album, and if anyone manages to top it this year in my mind they will be doing incredibly well.

The American Dream releases August 3rd via Hopeless Records and can be pre-ordered here: http://smarturl.it/TEdream

1. Autumn
2. Something Bigger Than This
3. Friday Forever
4. More Like You
5. A Cotton Candy Sky
6. You Can Count On Me
7. Broken
8. Tip Toe
9. Lavender Bay
10. Miming In The Choir
11. A Symphony Of Crickets
12. I Can Feel It Calling

Trophy Eyes - The American Dream
  • Album Rating
    10
The Good

Huge anthemic vocals. Massive hard hitting verses, instrumentally and vocally. Heart-wrenching and tear-jerking lyrical content. Incredibly unique sound.

The Bad

Not applicable.

1010
Josh Hockey

Melbourne based music journalist who is ridiculously passionate about music, and spends every possible moment listening to it, seeing shows, and of course wearing the merch.

1 Comment
  1. Literal goosebumps. This is more than a review, it’s such an in-depth look into the album and almost analysis but somehow through the eyes of John? Great work, I was scared these boys couldn’t top Chemical Miracle – my favourite album of all time and now I can’t wait til the album arrives at my door!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.