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Just like the title Suicide and Sunshine, Trophy Eyes’ fourth album is about contrast. About light and dark. About beauty and tragedy. About the full spectrum of human existence, with each song plucked from the pages of frontman John Floreani’s life.

There’s “Blue Eyed Boy”, a harrowing account of a friend deep in the thralls of drug addiction; “Runaway Come Home”, a deeply personal number about Floreani’s at-times distant relationship with his mother; “People Like You”, a song about growing up poor in the rural New South Wales town of Mudgee; and the devastating “Sean”, an account of the day Floreani’s friend committed suicide.

The singer’s willingness to dive so deeply into the most personal parts of his life is matched by the band’s desire to explore the very boundaries of the hardcore genre, incorporating dark modern pop (“My Inheritance”), electronic flourishes courtesy of co-producer Fletcher Matthews, and atmospheric, swirling synths (“Runaway Come Home” and “Sydney”).

That desire came from a place of desperation. As COVID sent the world into lockdown, the band – which formed in Newcastle in 2013, and also features drummer Blake Caruso and bassist Jeremy Winchester – feared it was all over. “We all thought, let’s make this our last record, put everything we want to say into it, every sound we want to do,” says Floreani.

Somewhere in the process of creating the record, however, it became clear that Suicide and Sunshine would not be their final album. Recording in Bangkok with longtime producer Shane Edwards (who also played guitar on the album, alongside Floreani and former six-stringer Andrew Hallett), the group remembered why Trophy Eyes is so special to them.

The album’s title comes from a lyric in the song “Sean”, Floreani writing that it was sunny when he heard of his mate’s passing, and that the Uber that took him to a gathering of Sean’s friends was playing poppy Top 40 hits. It is, however, a concept that’s long inspired the singer’s work.

“It’s the tragedy and the beauty of life. When we did Chemical Miracle, our second full length, the logo for the album was a palm tree and a noose. That’s literally suicide and sunshine. It’s always been there on my mind. And I think I finally just phonetically set it out. That encompasses everything I’ve been trying to do my entire career.”

It’s a fitting sentiment for an album that Trophy Eyes at one point thought would be their last. Instead, it breathed new life into the group, reminding them of their proud past and, crucially, their promising future.

“It’s where we are, it’s who we are just doing the stuff we like,” says Floreani. “It was just the guys getting together and focusing on our relationships, being brothers and being in a band again. And that’s what this record was for Trophy Eyes – a very happy revisiting of why the f**k we’re doing this in the first place.”