[ALBUM REVIEW] State Champs – Living Proof


Red White Shame
Ghost To Ghost
Bite The Leash (Burn)
The Stench
The Legacy

Reviewed by Carleigh Ingram

State Champs have just released their third full-length album and it looks like it’s going to keep them moving forward on their journey through the pop-punk world. Formed in 2010 in Albany, New York, the five-piece band have made a mark on the scene and continue to move forward with this new album.

On the first listen through, you could mistake some of the songs for other pop-punk icons such as All Time Low or a mix of the more pop-side of Good Charlotte or A Day To Remember but there are definitely many influences on this album. Throughout the writing and recording process State Champs worked with John Feldman (produced Good Charlotte, The Used, Panic! At the Disco, Plain White T’s and many more) Mike Green and Kyle Black, who they’d worked with previously on Around the World and Back; but also wrote with Alex Gaskarth of All Time Low and Mark Hoppus of Blink 182, who lends his vocals to a track but we’ll get to that.

With 13 tracks, this album opens up with Criminal, giving listeners a big hit of the pop-punk flare these boys are known for, it’s fun, catchy and a fantastic way to begin the album. Upbeat but sad song, Frozen and the second single Crystal Ball take the album forward, drawing the listeners in. The opening songs lyrically touch on, obsessive love, heartbreak and the long road they’ve taken to get where they are now and “never be[ing] ungrateful.”

The fourth track and first single/video from the album Dead and Gone has possibly the catchiest intro on the album, which you can imagine chanting along to live. The song gives into all that is pop-punk with quick drums, cool guitar riffs and an angsty chorus belted out by vocalist Derek DiScanio but also tells the story of the failed relationship and heartbreak. Picking up the pace, Lighting sees bassist Ryan Scott Graham and drummer Evan Ambrosio get to show off their skills; a song about a heated, unsure romance but where each member. Almost as if to slow things down, Our Time to Go invites listeners into the acoustic guitar talents of Tyler Szalkowlski for the first 30 seconds or so before the quintet erupts into a story about trying to find yourself again and move forward. In the middle of the record, the energy levels rise again while seemingly explaining that it’s okay to be who and where you are in Safe Haven and definitely allows for some dancing around between verses.

Moving into the second half of the album, Something About You, has an incredibly infectious tune throughout. It feels as if depending on what you’ve been through or where you’re at in life, the chorus could turn this song into a love song, or a breakup song – “I can’t seem to forget about you. I, maybe now I gotta live without you.” The Fix Up is another ode to relationships and the troubles within them. It’s not fast but not slow tempo, held together by rhythm guitarist Tony ‘Rival’ Diaz makes your head nod as you listen and paints a vivid emotional picture. Track 10, Cut Through the Static, where the album title comes from packs a punch lyrically and has that feel to it, where you just know the crowd is going to go wild in a live setting – definitely a stand out on the album. The third single and the next track on the album Mine Is Gold, being the third last song you’d almost expect the album to the winding down but State Champs aren’t done yet. It’s a big middle finger to past relationships, bullies or backstabbing friends. Moving down in tempo Time Machine opens with a piano piece. To an experienced ear, you could say this song was some line walking, it’s a different style to the rest of the album but it works out, especially with where it is placed on the album and it’s recognisable guest vocals from Mark Hoppus. Closing out the album is Sidelines, last but definitely not least and there isn’t a better closer on the album. With the speed ramping up again, the songs are literally asking if we’re sitting on the sidelines and ending in the only way it possibly could have – with a fade out.

State Champs have left their mark over the last eight years with relentless touring and sharing the stage with some of the heavyweights of the industry. They show off their versatility with this album as well as much of the experience that they have gained throughout their career. The upbeat but meaningful songs, along with their commitment shows that there is no way Pop Punk is dead. The album can be found on all major streaming sites and the boys in State Champs are appearing across the final Warped Tour which kicked off on June 21st and continues through until early August.