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Trophy Eyes are a rare and encouraging example of a young, fledgling Australian pop punk act that surpasses the shortfalls of mediocrity and derivativeness that commonly plague budding musicians. Emerging from small town New South Wales late last year, the five-piece cut themselves well above the high water mark of their peer group, holding a steady, brightly-lit candle to their influences while simultaneously carving a distinctive niche between the separate yet overlapping worlds of pop punk and melodic hardcore. Their debut EP ‘Everything Goes Away’ is a raw and intense effort that presents a perfect cohesion of disparate musical ideas, propelled by deeply cathartic lyrical honesty that elegantly succeeds with making a resounding emotional impact.
Trophy Eyes’ most desirable attribute is their ability to produce vividly poignant and unique works of art from well-honed puzzle pieces, creating music that is comfortingly familiar despite eschewing definitive pigeonholing. Connoisseurs of pop punk and melodic hardcore will recognise the heavy-handed mark that artists like Touche Amore, Such Gold and The Wonder Years had on the EP’s construction. Rather than making shoehorned concessions to a heavier, mosh-enthused audience, songs like ‘Bandaid’ emphasise the gritty, in-your-face aggression of hardcore punk with fast, thrashy guitar chords that bear more than a passing resemblance to mid-career Miles Away. Drummer Callum Cramp effortlessly holds down the pack, steaming the train along at ‘Dude Ranch’-era Blink-182 speed and fleshing the beat out with busy cymbal hits.
Vocalist John Floreani walks a precarious tightrope on the entirety of the EP, alternating between a roaring, full-bodied scream shared by Jeremy Bolm and a gravelly, ultra-strained, Ned Russin-esque style of singing that still proves itself more than capable of carrying a biting, catchy melodic refrain. Opener ‘May 24’ quickly cements him as an inspired and masterful storyteller, weaving a tragic, autobiographical tale of carefree innocence corrupted by substance addiction. Floreani spends most of the EP in a state of deep self-reflection, recounting his past journey with older, steadier and wiser eyes. His ability as a wordsmith interjects immense emotional weight into the most miniscule details, such as on ‘Cutting Teeth’ where he admires a moth’s steadfast sense of purpose as it dodges droplets of water to reach an illuminated streetlamp on a rain-swept evening.
Despite maintaining a singular, unified aesthetic, solidified by impeccable production values that emphasise the rough-edged intensity of the music without sounding hollow or cheap, ‘Everything Goes Away’ presents a broad spectrum of moods and tones. ‘May 24’ and ‘Hourglass’ mark the EP’s catchiest moments, hitting the breaks on the band’s hardcore stylism to reveal gripping, melodic guitar riffs that lay a bedrock for Floreani’s ferociously on-point refrains.
Closer ‘Fortunate’ swells to a triumphant, fast-paced crescendo of rising power chords and Floreani at his most assertive, partially screaming and partially singing the line “I’m not going anywhere, I fought so hard just to stand here” with aggressive defiance. Moments like this speak of a band unified with a clear and definitive sense of purpose and direction, and, for the moment at least, the road ahead for Trophy Eyes seems very bright indeed.
‘Everything Goes Away’ marks a crowning achievement for Australian pop punk, melting down the raw energy and aggressive emotionality of melodic hardcore and infusing it with the bitingly catchy sensibilities of modern pop punk. Trophy Eyes have constructed a smooth and cohesive listening experience, seamlessly melding disparate musical elements while avoiding the forced, arbitrary sound of similar crossover acts. The result is a deeply enjoyable EP that cements the Newcastle five-piece as an act to watch.
1. May 24
2. Cutting Teeth