For Fans Of
Back when Trophy Eyes released their debut album, ‘Mend, Move On’ in November 2014, I was quite the fan of it. I gave the album 80/100 in my review, as I really enjoyed it. But I actually went back to it a few months later in 2015 and I was nowhere near as infatuated with it as I was upon its initial release. It was a still a good record, for sure, but it now left me cold somewhat; what was once ‘80’ was now sitting around the ‘60’ mark. I’ve found this to be the case with many albums that I’ve written about over the years – I really dig an album the month before and the month after release but six to twelve months down the line, my love may have potentially wavered (key word there was ‘may’).
I still love the new Architects album, though, that shit fucking rules!
So this was something that I thought a lot about with ‘Chemical Miracle’, the new record from NSW’s Trophy Eyes; “Will I still dig this record six months down the line?” “Will there be enough staying power for me in the long run?” Of course, while I can’t speak for you personally or for my future self – at least, not yet – I have a very, very good feeling that this record will remain on high-rotation for yours truly.
See, this release is a big step forward for the Newcastle outfit, with the band developing their pop-punk/melodic hardcore sound even further. Sure, you’ve probably heard a lot of these riffs and melodies over the years but that doesn’t mean that this album should be written off or that Trophy Eyes aren’t onto a winner here because they’ve most certainly upped their game with LP #2. From John Floreani’s throaty screams to his focus on cleaner vocal styles, to the more focused instrumental dynamics that were hinted at on past releases, and to the band’s songwriting, in general; everything shows a greater improvement here.
However, one thing that really works in this record’s favor is the juxtaposition created between the instrumentation and the lyrics that portray the song’s themes. The bright, major scale sound of this record contrasts heavily with the rather morbid and emotional lyrics of loss, regret, death, and romantic relationships, both past and present. So as you jam out to the soaring, catchy opener of ‘Chlorine‘ you may not notice that it’s an immensely emotional song about remembering the good times you had with loved ones who are no longer with us. Lyrics like ‘Tell me why I didn’t die in that swimming pool? When you saved my life, did you know you would take your own? Who decides if we stay or if we go? Did it cross your mind, that I’m alive because of you?‘ actually hoodwink the listener because of how catchy and melodic this song actually is. This musical juxtaposition is something that the band utilizes extremely well throughout this record, from opener ‘Chlorine‘ right up to album’s terrific curtain call with ‘Daydreamer‘. While it may not be intentional, it is a potent effect nonetheless.
Fitting in with these uplifting timbres, songs like ‘Chlorine‘, ‘Heaven Sent‘, ‘Suicide Pact‘ and ‘Home Is‘ are just pure summer anthems, making this album’s recent release the perfect time for us Aussies. The same goes for most recent single ‘Breathe You In‘, which was put the best by fellow Killyourstereo.com writer, Owen Morawitz, in his recent Hysteria Mag review, saying its’s “the best song Basement never wrote, and delivers on everything Promise Everything well … promised”. Nailed it, and I have nothing to add on that except ‘Chemical Miracle‘ > ‘Promise Everything‘.
Now, if you just went off the album’s pre-release singles, you’d think that the quintet has gone soft on us all and had traded in their aggression and speed for mere melody and hooks. But just like Flat-Earthers, you would be sorely wrong.
‘Counting Sheep‘ and ‘Nose Bleed‘ maintain the punk/hardcore element of the group, and the aforementioned ‘Suicide Pact‘, in particular, seems like an old B-side from the ‘Everything Goes Away‘ EP, just with a bigger chorus, more melodic riffs, and just as fast a tempo. Likewise, the vicious ‘Rain On Me‘ rips out some killer blast beats to be one the album’s heaviest cut, before leading into the dark and minimal ‘Chemical‘. It’s here that you’ll find perhaps the most prominent lyric of the entire record – “If love is just a chemical reaction, then why is death so different?“. The sister track to ‘Chemical‘ arrives just a few songs later in form of the soaring and emotionally powerful ‘Miracle‘, that hits hard with the constant cymbal crashes, the choral section and the dramatic cry of “Who the fuck’s gonna miss me?“. Even though ‘Chemical Miracle‘ is littered with some damn fine songs, (and some average ones, like ‘Heaven Sent‘) these two brief offerings are actually my best picks.
Finally, Trophy Eyes somewhat break out of their usual sound with the dynamic closer of ‘Daydreamer‘, and it echoes the softer moments of Floreani’s side-project, Little Brother, while still maintaining elements of Trophy Eye’s overall sound. Now, I think that we have all had friends and family members who we would walk through fire for but whom would never lift a finger for us. Thus, the line of “No one is ever gonna love you like you love them” will cut like a knife for many listeners, myself included. Also, this tracks’ crescendoing mid-section builds up so well that the eventual release is just pure sonic euphoria and it ends the record on a near-perfect note.
So to once again raise the question: ‘Will I still dig ‘Chemical Miracle’ six months down the line?’ Yeah, I fucking hope so, as this is Trophy Eyes at their best. ‘Chemical Miracle’ has got a little more up its sleeve than just your usual fast, upbeat pop-punk/melodic hardcore and it’s got some of the band’s best songs to date tucked away within its track listing. Hopefully, these dudes can only grow from here on in to create better and better releases.
Also, that oil painting artwork is super rad. I hope whoever did that was paid a handsome sum by the band.
- Counting Sheep
- Nose Bleed
- Heaven Sent
- Rain On Me
- Breathe You In
- Home Is
- Suicide Pact
‘Chemical Miracle’ is out now via Hopeless Records. It’s good shit.