[Album Review] Wall of Trophies – ‘Heliograph’

When Wall Of Trophies’ Will Copps contacted me for a feature last month for TDL, I wasn’t ready for what I was about to hear. One listen to album title track, “Heliograph,” and I was smitten but that was only the beginning.

I have a soft spot for DIY artists; after all, I kind of am one myself. I love the hustle, as trying as it can be, and I love watching others fight for their craft with everything they’ve got. Washington DC duo, Wall of Trophies – comprised of Brittany Jean (who bears a striking resemblance to actress Sophia Bush) and the aforementioned Will Copps – had something about them that drew me in more than usual. Maybe it’s the dark, atmospheric synths and words of revival I’ve been craving lately or maybe it’s the way they’re able to manifest a feeling into sound – something a lot of artists fail to do. Either way, after fully immersing myself in their debut record, Heliograph, I felt a sense of urgency to share them with the world.

The album opens with the dominant “Everything” – a track about letting go of everything that holds you back; a perfect opening as it gives way to a canvas of things we as humans need to let go of. The track that started it all, “Heliograph,” follows, and as Jean sings, “There’s a piece of me I’ll never recollect,” I can’t help but marvel at how music finds us at precisely the right time, giving us exactly what we need to hear to heal while allowing us to interpret a song to tailor to our own circumstances.

I’ve been struggling with a lot of things over the past eight months, mostly with God and feelings of emptiness and abandonment. “Bad Dream” captures everything I’ve been through over the past six years eloquently without giving too much away. “I don’t need you to be in the backseat / You saved me so suddenly / Just to watch me go, just to kill me slowly;” “You let me cry in my bed all alone / You’re a bad dream and I can’t wake up.” How it’s possible to feel everything all at once in under three minutes, I’ll never know but they can do it.

As if things couldn’t get any more epic, “Trees” comes barreling in with just as much force, painting on the dark, atmospheric ambiance while making listeners want to walk through a snow-covered forest at night in search of some answers while “Crown” continues with that notion, building up to the energy of “Break All The Rules.” Drenched in much-appreciated reverb, Jean’s vocals echo as she sings, “Desperately I love you as I’m staring into black / Break the rules and just stay.”

Perhaps the most heartbreaking of them all, “Dirt,” piles on every wrenching moment I’ve ever had and turns it up tenfold, forcing the listener to feel things they’ve hidden for years. Sorry folks, but this is necessary. As Jean sings opening lines, “She’s in your arms and I’m in the ground,” I’m reminded how if I ever shared this with anyone I’d be ridiculed for feeling too much but it’s quite evident I’m not alone here. Thanks, Britt! I’ll also openly admit that this one had me sobbing ugly tears throughout the entire thing, especially during the chorus, “Love me or bury me.” The ballad-esque part of the track picks up around the 3:00 mark while spiraling back down about a minute later, beautifully demonstrating what it’s like to be left and forgotten.

Things pick up intensity with “Never/Always.” This is the part where you’re either at war with yourself or you’re praising this record for being so raw. “I can’t breathe thinking of everything / You’ve given me nothing, don’t leave me a thief / Leave me a fool.” Inner-strength comes into play with “Debt” – a track that just screams for a spot in a scene on The Vampire Diaries as it evokes a sense of power over the enemy, making the victim a victor.

“Light/Dark” suggests a happier viewpoint of love as Jean angelically sings, “Just hold on, the light is coming.” Top notch foreshadowing for closing track, “Love Me Not,” possibly about discovering (or in my case, re-discovering) God and His love. “He will hold me when I die / Then he’ll follow after.” After everything this record walks you through, there’s a glorious ending as last lines are, “The sun will rise again, I know, whether you love me or not.” It’s a hopeful beginning at the end of the tunnel. A sigh of relief that the worst is over. Sounds of the ocean and planes flying overhead make up the last few minutes of the track, inspiring you to go someplace serene to feel brand new again.

There’s still a lot for me to work on to ever begin to feel this sense of closure, but I’m sure in time and with this record by my side, I’ll start to feel reborn.

Heliograph is available now here. Purchase CDs here.

Tina Roumeliotis

Tina Roumeliotis

Tina is the founding editor of The Daily Listening. She's also a professional music nerd for BUZZNET. You'll most likely find her where she finds most of her inspiration: introverting in her bedroom with her music collection and a pair of headphones.