Review Summary: Living proof that State Champs may struggle to recapture the quality of The Finer Things
When I heard State Champs was putting out a new album, I was beyond stoked. All I had heard of them prior to this release was The Finer Things
, and being a massive fan of quality, summery pop punk that invokes imagery of skateboarding and laying on the beach, I loved it. The boys of State Champs are making an appearance at Warped Tour this year, which I’m attending, so I was looking forward to having another entire album of summer-fueled bangers to see them play this summer.
Then, the first single, “Dead and Gone” released. Boy, was I in for a bitter pill to swallow. Filled to the brim with John Feldmann-isms, such as boring, overly sugary sweet production elements, synthetic sounding “oh-whoahh”s, and more, I was massively disappointed and scared for what would come next . After that, I decided not to listen to anything else until the album released, in fear of being completely turned away from the project. I’m glad I did, as “Dead and Gone” actually ended up being one of the lowest points of the album. They ended up delivering a killer album—almost.
comes chock full of everything you would expect from the New Yorkers at this point: soaring choruses, fairly tight, summer-tinged instrumentation, and great vocals. A perfect example of these pieces coming together to form an excellent song is the track “Lightning”, which really shines in its chorus with all of the power chords you could expect and the rasp that comes from Derrick’s voice as he belts out, “who knew we were lightning.” Another track of the same ilk is “Safe Haven”. State Champs doesn’t just give us an album of fast paced summer anthems, though. There are actually three slow songs on the album, which succeed to varying degrees.
The one that impresses most is “Our Time to Go”, which starts slowly with a buildup to an explosion of a chorus that really pays off and keeps the listener engaged throughout. Sadly, I can’t say the same for the other two. “The Fix Up” attempts to replicate the success of “Our Time to Go”, and it’s a fine track, but it’s just not as interesting the second time around. Especially considering it’s only two tracks after it’s more successful brother. The third, “Time Machine”, is hardly even worth mentioning, as it simply meanders throughout its three and a half minute run-time, going nowhere and accomplishing nothing of note, other than aggravating the listener and having a painful Mark Hoppus feature.
At the end of the day, this album is hard to rate. This is due to the fact that, while a majority of the album is perfectly serviceable pop punk, it just rarely lives up to the quality presented in their album The Finer Things
. If that album hadn’t already been released fives years ago, these songs would honestly impress me more and stick with me better. The simple fact, though, is they can write something better, as they’ve show us.
Don’t let that keep you from listening to this if you’re a fan of the band, as it’s definitely worth a couple spins. Non-fans, however, will find nothing here to change their mind. Luckily, I was already a major fan. I wan initially majorly disappointed when spinning this album, but upon about five listens, most of these songs grew on me much more than I had ever expected. These songs, aside from the highlights and lowlights, are just par for the course State Champs tracks. You’ll either enjoy them enough to listen through them repeatedly or find them bland, depending on your opinion of their work.
Best tracks: Criminal, Lightning, Safe Haven, Something About You
Worst Tracks: Dead and Gone, The Fix Up, Time Machine