Album Review: State Champs - 'Living Proof'
2018 has been a great year for pop-punk releases, and State Champs make their contribution with ‘Living Proof’.
In a genre as saturated as pop-punk, it’s becoming increasingly harder to make songs that stand out, yet State Champs have just released a whole album full of outstanding tracks, cementing their positions as the giants of pop-punk. With their latest album, ‘Living Proof’, the band shine a light onto the boundaries of the genre, and it’s the most ambitious and creative work in the band’s catalog as of yet. Speaking about the process of crafting the album, vocalist Derek DiScanio says, “It was like, let’s take as many swings at it, try as many new things and experiment, until we get to the point where we could start searching through it all and then find the album.”
Having gone back to their roots in Albany, New York, this has shown in the sonic landscape of the album, especially in tracks such as ‘Crystal Ball’ and ‘Lightning’, where fans can pick up hints of their earlier sound. The combination of old and new on this album has culminated in a cohesive piece of work that will hook in fans from every walk of life.
Opening with ‘Criminal’, vocals and instrumentals gradually fade in from a distance, fuzzing their way into a monumental instrumental opening. Heartfelt riffs prevail over frenetic drumming, and the outstanding instrumental work is equally matched by DiScanio’s exceptional vocals. A dynamic opening track, ‘Criminal’ will leave the adrenaline pumping through you, leaving you buzzing for the rest of the album.
A beautifully introspective introduction to ‘Frozen’ brings a fluttering spring breeze into the album. The delicate guitar line is complemented by rolling toms, and the bass adds in the extra kick with cheeky riffs speckled around here and there. The harmonic progression in the chorus is simply delightful, as we transition from a minor to a melody towards the end, shining through like a ray of sunlight as DiScanio sings ‘You had the opportunity to find out just what we could but all was frozen after all’.
‘Lightning’ is a perfect example of the band’s amalgamation of older and newer sound. We hear riffs that would not sound out of place in their previous albums, but there is also a freshness to the track that comes with creative exploration. As the chorus hits, you’ll feel the electricity flooding through you as DiScanio belts out soaring high notes, questioning ‘Who knew we were lightning?’
The pace is pulled back in ‘Our Time To Go’, an epic ballad that will tug at your heartstrings with lyrics such as ‘Nothing hurts more than saying I’m fine’. It’s not difficult to imagine a whole arena waving their arms along to this song, with it’s heartfelt chorus and tender vocal harmonies. ‘The Fix Up’ is similarly honest, and it’s another slightly slower song on the album. Featuring an acoustic guitar, that’s a tell-tale sign that this is an honest song, and our suspicions are confirmed with the nostalgic riffs and bittersweet lyrics such as ‘I want to get lost and fall behind but I don’t want to let it go.’
This is an album coming from experiences of both the ups and downs of life, and making it through whatever is thrown at you. “There are songs on this album about everything,” says DiScanio, “There’s break-ups, and flings, love, loss, all of that.” He continues, “Living Proof has a lot to do with independence, and finding the independence within you, embracing the mixed emotions that fall in your lap a lot of the time” Living Proof is so different from their previous material, yet it remains distinctly State Champs, and this is definitely an album you’ll want to listen to over and over again.
Words by Athena Kam