Burleson, Texas, is some 8,500 miles away from TROPHY EYES’ hometown of Sydney, Australia (and even more culturally distant), but this small town left its mark on the band’s new album, The American Dream, in a massive way.
After years of global touring with bands like Jimmy Eat World and Violent Soho, Trophy Eyes frontman John Floreani found himself dropped in the Texas town in 2016, drawn there by his girlfriend. Bands like U2, The Killers, and Coldplay soundtracked his surroundings in the Deep South—the dense, humid air; the bustling cowboy bars; the nightly symphony of crickets and brilliant glow of lightning bugs—and inspired a new era of songwriting.
Bursting with nuanced energy and massive hooks, Trophy Eyes’ third album distills the singer’s American experiences into a brand-new sound for the quintet—Floreani, Jeremy Winchester (bass), Andrew Hallett and Kevin Cross (guitar) and Blake Caruso (drums). It’s a marked change from the sweat-soaked, critically acclaimed punk spirit of 2014’s Mend, Move On and 2016’s Chemical Miracle (which debuted at #8 in Australia), a sound that moved listeners around the world to the tune of back-to-back sold-out Australian headlining tours and similarly sold-out treks in North America and the UK.
From first single “You Can Count On Me” (a commentary on the artist-listener relationship and bold declaration of Trophy Eyes reclaiming their art) to the rose-tinted celebration of reckless youth of “Friday Forever” and self-loathing “More Like You,” which marries frenetic energy with a subversive, tribal chorus, The American Dream relies less on breakneck tempos and more on emotionally resonant storytelling. It balances external utopia with internal struggle, universally triumphant yet deeply introspective—all amplified by gorgeous string arrangements produced by Grammy-nominated Chris Craker (Hans Zimmer’s Interstellar).
“Music is a moment in time of real life,” Floreani explains. “These songs paint a picture of where I was in the moment. I’d found where I wanted to be, running away from the shitty things I was living in back in Sydney. I got this mood that helped me understand Texas better and what my life was, and I wanted to write a record that felt like that point in time.”
Ultimately, The American Dream is a bold statement from a band coming into their own, one that doesn’t bulldoze their past as much as it kicks out those guardrails in favor of a wide-open road forward. That’s perhaps most evident on the album-closing “I Can Feel It Coming,” which bridges their hard-charged core with their anthemic present, a musical dichotomy that will help propel Trophy Eyes forward into the future. It’s the culmination of their last five years, as they’ve finally arrived here: exactly where they want to be.
“I want to make my favorite record ever, because it doesn’t exist,” Floreani says. “My favorite music doesn’t exist. There’s bits and pieces out there in other artists that are very close, but I’ve never found a perfect record. That’s why you make your own, and put all the things you’re looking for into it. To me, this record is perfect.” XX