Trophy Eyes pre-emptively countered expected backlash with the release of their first single ‘You Can Count On Me’, frontman John Floreani spouting numerous lines addressing the inevitable criticism; “What do you think I owe you? Have I not given you enough?” and “I gave my all to you for years of my life. You still think that I've done you wrong”.
Truthfully, those that come close towards labeling the band as “selling out” or watering down their sound are likely missing the point. Part of the reason Chemical Miracle was such a success is due to Floreani being such an open book lyrically, yet The American Dream still showcases that same vulnerability in spades. Heck, you could even argue that he exposes himself to a greater degree, with fewer screams and breakdowns to hide behind.
That’s not to say the band has entirely relinquished their heaviness, ‘More Like You’ has a cathartic passage accentuated via screams of “I never asked to be born in this skin draped over me. Am I as ugly on the outside as what's living underneath?”. Even the music video for ‘Friday Forever’ (the hook of which may eternally be burnt into my brain after one rotation) showcases a crop-top clad Floreani dancing and swaggering in front of a mirrored studio room. Perhaps the visual matter is kind of questionable when paired alongside the song, but this kind of vulnerability is pretty exemplary in this scene, and perhaps even more so from a genre dominated by stoic Male artists.
Perhaps the one detraction from this album is an abundance of gang vocals. Hearing layers of “Woah-ohhh”s adds to the grandiosity of such songs as ‘More Like You’ and ‘Miming In The Choir’, and is clearly suited for anthemic live sets, but an over-reliance means its charm starts to wear thin fairly quickly. The band do manage to mix it up in glances, the muted opening of ‘Tip Toe’ blossoms into a beautiful acoustic serenade and the closing number of ‘I Can Feel It Calling’ is a bombastic finisher, moving from strength to strength, rounding out the album’s tail end in spectacularly ambitious fashion – not dissimilar to how ‘Daydreamer’ sent off Chemical Miracle.
On the last few closing lines of album opener ‘Autumn’ Floreani preaches “Don't let no sad songs rot your brain”, which could be interpreted as a relatively accurate mission statement for their sound going forward. Trophy Eyes are powerful songwriters, and The American Dream is a bold career move for the Newcastle five-piece that’s sure to make them one of Australia’s freshest rock exports. Ultimately, fans going into this expecting Chemical Miracle 2.0 will be inevitably disappointed, even if all the necessary ingredients remain present, sticklers might be thrown by their more triumphant sound. Trophy Eyes are still filled with angst, love, and loss, but they’re no longer screaming through what ails them – they’re singing.
Dre's Top Three:
- Friday Forever
- You Can Count On Me
- I Can Feel It Calling