June 11, 2018 State Champs – Living Proof (Album Review)
They will forever be champions, so it is no great surprise that State Champs remain triumphant with Living Proof, which arrives this Friday, June 15th, thanks to Pure Noise Records.
Formed in the capitol city of Albany, New York, in 2010, Pop Punkers State Champs would release 3 EPs before making their full-length debut with 2013’s The Finer Things, which would impressively hit No. 2 on the Billboard Heatseekers chart. Then, another EP would follow before 2015’s Around the World and Back, which debuted at No. 30 on the Billboard Top 200 Albums chart.
These days, lineup changes are a given, but States Champs have soldiered onward, never missing a beat. Throughout the past eight years, the quintet have built a name for themselves thanks to dedicated touring, bringing them to share stages with the likes of New Found Glory, A Day To Remember, All Time Low, Motion City Soundtrack, Bayside, Vanna, Creeper, Neck Deep, and Knuckle Puck, to name but a few. They are, of course, Vans Warped Tour veterans, and will in fact be making an appearance on the much-beloved tour this summer.
With their third full-length, Living Proof, the members of State Champs – Vocalist Derek DiScanio, Guitarists Tyler Szalkowski and Tony “Rival” Diaz, Bassist Ryan Scott Graham, and Drummer Evan Ambrosio – are ready to present their most cohesive set yet! The 13-song collection was actually produced in two sessions, with two separate teams. First, the quintet met with the almighty John Feldmann (Blink-182, Good Charlotte), who brought in pal Mark Hoppus of Blink-182 to co-write on “Dead and Gone,” and provide a guest vocal appearance on “Time Machine.” They also co-wrote with Alex Gaskarth of All Time Low. Though, despite these ‘successes’, it is important to never lose touch with your roots, and so the band also worked with Mike Green and Kyle Black, the duo who were at the helm of Around the World and Back. Ultimately, this all amounts to a collection that proves that State Champs are a vital force on today’s Pop Punk scene!
Living Proof explodes into “Criminal,” a full-throttle assault of delicious Pop Punk catchiness in the name of dangerously addictive love. Next up, time is at the heart of the matter in the deceptively upbeat “Frozen,” while peering into the “Crystal Ball,” State Champs question the long, winding, uncertain road to success, yet promise that they will never be ungrateful.
Love is a bittersweet affair and here to celebrate the failure of a relationship, State Champs rock out with first single/video “Dead and Gone,” a perfect example of everything rightly Pop Punk that was co-written with Blink-182’s Mark Hoppus. Meanwhile, “Lightning” ignites a fiery romance and highlights some killer bass work from Graham. Then, the tender heart of the emotional “Our Time to Go” attempts to piece oneself back together and move forward before hey rock out to the catchy sing-along “Safe Haven,” a promise that wherever you are is where you belong.
They continue to weave infectiousness on “Something About You,” a groovy little ode to someone special. Next, mixed signals are tainting a relationship that is in dire need of “The Fix Up,” a mid-tempo power ballad-esque ode to a relationship that seems to delight in mutual agony. They amp it back up for rocker “Cut Through the Static,” which gives rise to the album’s name, Living Proof, and is guaranteed to make crowds jump up and down and go wild.
Ironically upbeat, biting “Mine Is Gold” is infectious, semi-preciousness that takes aim at backstabbers and bullies with black hearts who desperately need to choke and crumble. Bittersweet, downtempo “Time Machine” wishes to go back in time to rescue a relationship from regret, and the emotionally touching number features a guest vocal appearance from Hoppus. Ultimately, they amp it back up for album closer, “Sidelines,” another catchy little bop that questions what we are all waiting for, standing on the sidelines of life.
If you love Good Charlotte or A Day To Remember, State Champs seem a guaranteed good time for your ears! Their brand of infectious, upbeat Pop Punk is exactly what the doctor ordered, and these boys show no signs of slowing down. With stand-out tracks like “Dead and Gone” and “Mine Is Gold,” Living Proof is a collection that is weighted heavily in relationship talk, sure, but there is also bark and bite, and a zillion reasons to sing-along. They certainly know a little something about melody, and for this, State Champs are very much living proof that Pop Punk is not dead! For these reasons, CrypticRock give State Champs’ Living Proof a 4 out of 5 stars.