Trophy Eyes – ‘The American Dream’ (Album Review)
Relocation is usually key to creative development, whether it be stylistic, mental, or physical. New perspectives, directions, lessons, discoveries, and opportunities rarely come when people sit and stagnate – and Trophy Eyes have never been ones to stick fast and stand still. That fact has earned them plenty of detractors, but it’s also won over a fair few fans.
For Trophy Eyes, catharsis is a constant motivator, consistently present on back catalogue cuts such as Chlorine, which saw vocalist John Floreani ponder the thoughts of an acquaintance who saved him from drowning, and later committed suicide. These guys have never been scared to pick apart sensitive topics, and so they naturally continue to do so throughout The American Dream, an album primarily inspired by Floreani’s experiences as an Australian expatriate living in Texas.
Self-esteem and confidence issues are a recurring Trophy Eyes theme, and they crop up many times throughout The American Dream. Rejection seems to be constantly anticipated, as indicated by the video for You Can Count On Me, during which a crowd of sign-waving protesters hold a demonstration accusing Trophy Eyes of selling out. Although much of this album consists of very accessible pop-rock, Trophy Eyes haven’t forgotten their roots – and at their best, their efforts remain edgy and pointed.
You Can Count On Me, with its standout (and probably tongue-in-cheek) lyric “Thanks to everyone that bought tickets to my shows / I put all the money that you spent right up my nose,” is a case in point, while later song Miming In The Choir and closer I Can Feel It Calling veer sharply between pop-rock and post-hardcore. The latter track is absolutely fucking epic, stretching over six minutes and striding through a long series of style-stretching sections before climaxing with incredible strings arranged by the Hans Zimmer-endorsed Chris Craker. Those same strings also turn Tip Toe – a demonstration of deep vulnerability and mournful rumination that appears to address the difficulties of maintaining a relationship on tour, or at least when travelling to a distant destination – into a heartbreaking highlight.
The most fascinating (if divisive) song on The American Dream has to be More Like You, which has already attracted criticism on YouTube (where else) for being “Disney as fuck”. To be fair, certain vocal layers do bring The Lion King to mind, but harshly introspective lyrics about addiction, obsessive tendencies, and self-hatred drag the song into the dark before you can start working out where best to insert an “awimbawe”. Once you hit the part where Floreani screams “I never asked to be born, in this skin draped over me,” the contrast is more striking than some of progressive rock’s most advanced tunes.
It’s pretty fucking brave, to say the least – and although there will inevitably be some temptation to take the piss, once you get over the shock it actually works quite well.
Overall, The American Dream manages to cram in everything that fans have enjoyed about Trophy Eyes in the past, alongside some heavily experimental songs, mournful interludes (A Cotton Candy Sky and A Symphony Of Crickets), and a fair bit of borderline generic pop-rock that’s easily overshadowed by the moments mentioned above. The controversy has already been sparked off – but fuck it. At least Trophy Eyes are keeping it interesting.
LTK RATING: 83%
Pre-order The American Dream (out August 3) on iTunes.
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