State Champs
Living Proof


4.5
superb

Review

by iChuckles USER (19 Reviews)
June 13th, 2018 | 21 replies


Release Date: 2018 | Tracklist

Review Summary: "Can we savor every moment, find ourselves along the way?"

I was worried for a start, worried that Albany-based pop punkers State Champs would be treading down the much maligned, sugar-coated radio-pop route. The been-there-done-that "whoa-oh-oh" gang vocals that announce lead single "Dead and Gone" has the John Feldmann stigma written all over it (one of the three producers on this album, mind you) and it detracts from what is otherwise, a rock solid pop-punk tune ‒ complete with a memorable chorus. Fortunately, "Dead and Gone" is the only track on State Champs third LP, Living Proof, that features full-on pop sensibilities and almost sticks out like a sore thumb because of it. Make no mistake; Living Proof is an absolute shot in the arm, with frenzied, white knuckle pop-punk bangers permeating a majority of the track listing. While palate cleansers do arise, they feel more like they exist solely for the sake of providing the album with some much needed breathing room in light of all the explosive, feel-good energy that rests at the core of the album.

Frontman Derek Discanio's vocal chops have always been the clear highlight of State Champs' sound, and once again he proves his worth with some of the most exuberant and impressive sounding vocal melodies this side of the pop-punk genre, with moments that are guaranteed to send chills down your spine. Just listen as he belts his heart out in the chorus on the kinetic track "Lightning" ‒ possibly the heaviest sounding State Champs tune to date, with a bridge section that incentives movement. Elsewhere, Discanio consistently one-ups himself on a track-to-track basis, with every successive track packing a bigger, more infectious chorus than the last. Opener "Criminal" perfectly sets the stage for what follows and also proves just how far State Champs has come instrumentally since their stripped down 2013 debut The Finer Things. Evan Ambrosio's drumming is absolutely superb, with tons of tasteful triplet fills and ghost notes laced throughout his performance.

The guitar work is also the most dynamic yet on a State Champs LP, with funkier leanings, such as the beautiful intro to the excellent "Frozen" or the picture-esque riffing occurring in the bridge of "Crystal Ball". Much how the band's fellow pop-punk peers Neck Deep doubled down on their sound on 2015's excellent Life's Not Out To Get You, State Champs has taken a similar approach here. This is an extremely uplifting and summer primed record that is concerned only with getting listeners to bang their heads and sing along. "Something About You" may very well feature the best chorus melody that the band has ever penned and beautifully balances stripped down verses with a larger-than-life refrain and closer "Sidelines" ‒ with its start-and-stop dynamics and tasteful lead riffs ‒ perfectly closes out the album with a cacophanous bang.

"Our Time to Go", "The Fix Up" and the penultimate and lackluster "Time Machine", are the only tracks that offer some semblance of respite, the latter of which features a mediocre guest vocal spot by co-writer and Blink-182 bassist Mark Hoppus. The 6/8 time-signature on "Our Time to Go" is definitely a nice change of pace and the bitter-sweet lyricism and chorus section makes it the strongest State Champs ballad thus far. Perhaps the biggest reservation one might have regarding Living Proof is that it seems more concerned with being an amalgamation of the bands prior two albums as opposed to breaking new ground for the genre ‒ fortunately, the upgrades are noticable enough to make it the band's strongest and most consistent offering to date and few of the band's modern contemporaries offer musicianship tighter than what's on display here.

Clocking in at around 43 minutes over the course of 13 tracks, Living Proof just barely overstays its welcome. Mark Hoppus' guest appearance is completely unnecessary and it's a shame that bassist and backup vocalist Ryan Scott Graham doesn't get any moments in the spotlight vocally ‒ with vocal duties instead relying solely on Discanio. Save for these blunders, State Champs third outing is a strong argument for the best summer album of 2018. There's hit potential in virtually every track and the glossy production values and spruced up musicianship help reaffirm State Champs' status as heavy weights in the pop-punk genre, destined to rise above the rest.

Favorite track(s):
Criminal
Frozen
Crystal Ball
Lightning
Safe Haven
Something About You
Sidelines

Least favorite track(s):
Time Machine



Recent reviews by this author
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Neck Deep Life's Not Out To Get YouFour Year Strong Four Year Strong
user ratings (80)
Chart.
3.1
good
other reviews of this album
chris. (3.5)
Around The World and Back again...

TheWonderSoFar (3.5)
Living proof that State Champs may struggle to recapture the quality of The Finer Things...



Comments:Add a Comment 
Divaman
June 13th 2018


3067 Comments


Saw these guys live about a year and a half ago, but they didn't do much for me.

Digging: Lisa Loeb - The Very Best of Lisa Loeb

TheWonderSoFar
June 13th 2018


2240 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

So happy to hear Dead and Gone is the only neutered track here!! I was devastated when I heard it. Stoked to hear this album now!

Digging: Captain, We're Sinking - The Future Is Cancelled

iChuckles
June 13th 2018


273 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

@Divaman

Sad to hear they didn't wow you, I saw them exactly a year ago and they were absolutely stellar live.



@TheWonderSoFar

You should! "Dead and Gone" is a pretty bad representation of the album as a whole, definitely one of the slowest on the record.

Digging: Architects - Holy Hell

JayEnder
June 13th 2018


2543 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Crystal Ball is soooo catchy and awesome.

Digging: Daughters - You Won't Get What You Want

iChuckles
June 13th 2018


273 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

^ Definitely! Stellar single material, there are however tracks on this LP that manage to one-up it though.

JesperL
June 13th 2018


312 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I'm pretty indifferent to all the singles, but this review gives me hope. One of my favourite live bands tho, always kill it

FolioMage
June 13th 2018


19 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

For me this album is so much better then Around The World, maybe not as good as The Finer Things but honestly not far off

Trebor.
Staff Reviewer
June 14th 2018


56210 Comments


band is hot garbage, I have a hard time believing they released anything halfway decent

Digging: Lil Peep - Come Over When You're Sober Pt. 2

iChuckles
June 14th 2018


273 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

"I'm pretty indifferent to all the singles, but this review gives me hope. One of my favourite live bands tho, always kill it"



Crystal Ball is the only single that really blew me away, the opening track alone is pretty much better than all the singles.

FolioMage
June 14th 2018


19 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Trebor, if you didn't like The Finer Things I can pretty much guarantee you won't like this.

FolioMage
June 14th 2018


19 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

I think the review pretty much echoes my feelings, although the reviewer didn't seem to like any of the quiet songs, but I actually think that Our Time Is Now is a good song, reminds me of something that might have been on Acceptance - Phantoms. Which is good in my book cause for a Pop-Punk/Rock band they had some of the best ballad songs for me

iChuckles
June 14th 2018


273 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

^ I mentioned that Our Time to Go is my favorite State Champs ballad to date, The Fix Up ain't half bad either, it's just Time Machine that doesn't work for me at all.

ButtBoy
June 14th 2018


979 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

This will prolly be a solid 3

JesperL
June 15th 2018


312 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

ugh okay this is kinda hard to rate. some songs (criminal, lightning, something about you) are The Finer Things-level, but others (time machine, the fix up, safe haven) are pretty bad.

ButtBoy
June 15th 2018


979 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

cant wait to watch this avg plummet. couldnt even get through two full songs on my way to work this morning, i feel like im just listening to all time low

TheWonderSoFar
June 15th 2018


2240 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I got a chance to listen up through track 8 (on vacation so not a lot of chances to listen through whole albums) and ...I was kinda disappointed. Probably about a 3 so far. Maybe it’ll grow on me though. I may have not heard all the good songs yet, though.

ButtBoy
June 15th 2018


979 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

ok i finished it.

Decent: Criminal, Lightning, The Fix Up, Cut Through the Static

Generic bullshit: Everything else on this record

I'm sorry but this just does nothing for me

TheWonderSoFar
June 15th 2018


2240 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Wish they’d just release something on par with the finer things

That album bangs

adidonato
June 15th 2018


6 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Pleasantly surprised. Everything in me wants/wanted to hate this band via the singles. The Finer Things > This > Around The World and Back

JayEnder
June 15th 2018


2543 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Criminal is a definite banger. This is miles better than Around the World and Back.



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