There are two loose approaches to what sort of music you should listen to when you’re feeling down. The Relish Camp says “Find the most miserable song you can and slosh around in it, friend.” The Transcend Camp says “Thrust your head deep into that sparkly ol’ Nile Rodgers catalogue, chum.” John Floreani subscribes to the former, but attests that reading a few issues of the latter ensures you don’t lose your balance. “You feel like sh-t, you put on a sh-tty song, and you wallow in it for a little bit, but then you feel good afterwards,” he says. “But if you keep feeding yourself sadness, you put yourself in that environment – and it can get on top of you.”
It’s a sentiment Trophy Eyes have dallied with over the four years of their career, but the five-piece primarily lodged their flag in the sadder (though always melodic and propulsive) spaces of pop-punk. Now, The American Dream – the third studio album frontman Floreani has crafted along with his bandmates – spends more time considering the benefits of determined self-love.
Opener Autumn contains the line “Don’t let those sad songs rot your brain,” which Floreani describes as a “little ode” to himself: “This is coming from personal experience… I was cleaning the leaves out of a pool and I just had this flash of everything that’s ever happened to me in my entire life, and I thought, ‘Holy sh-t, what an interesting little life we’ve had,'” he says. “[The song is me] speaking to my younger self [about] my own sad songs, and writing them, and what that does when you have to kind of re-live all the sh-t you sing about.” That rumination is the beginning of a journey of mood, meaning and self-discovery.
Amongst the acerbic electric guitar, impellent drums and howling crunch of Floreani’s vocals on tracks like Something Bigger Than This and single You Can Count On Me are nestled some incredible details, on songs that breathe with space and the most microscopic of sounds. Floreani says stand-out A Cotton Candy Sky was the result of realising that despite always writing about “pretty personal sh-t”, he’s held back; an interviewer once asked him a question about ‘home’, which the vocalist refused to answer. “It got really weird,” he laughs. “But after that I thought, ‘F-ck it, it’s the most beautiful memory I have and I’ve got to get it out there, to share it.’ So that’s what that song’s about: the times I come out the back of my house in Texas, and it’s raining or it’s night time, and there’s fireflies. I wanted to make sure it sounded like damp wood, like Texas and the South.”
The band talked about getting every possible kind of sound out of the piano which leads the track, and decided to mic the entire thing up: not just the hammers on the strings, but the pedals, the creaking levers, and the sound of the keys moving softly against one another.
The other ‘interlude’ is A Symphony Of Crickets (“To get my voice that low, I went out and smoked a million cigarettes” says Floreani), which leads into the album’s crowning jewel: closer I Can Feel It Calling. “When I wrote [it], I knew – ‘F-ck, I’m writing the last song on the record,’” he says. “I love the record, but that one song is by far the best thing I’ve ever done, and the thing I’m most proud of in my life – my biggest accomplishment! Because I got that song to sound exactly like the feeling.”
And what’s the feeling? “I flew out of Poland to Texas, and that was a horrible, long tour, and it was a really hard winter on the road,” he explains. “I remember landing in Texas and then waiting for my car and I was like, ‘F-ck this – I’m going to drop my bags and run.’ That feeling wells up inside you, [the] anxiousness to get home. I wanted that song to sound like I’m running, and then to end as I’m f-cking home – bang!” he smiles. “I also wanted to make everybody cry, as well.”
The American Dream is out August 3 via UNFD, and is available for pre-order now.
Online CD pre-orders receive their booklet signed by Trophy eyes.