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Album Review // STATE CHAMPS ‘Living Proof’

Powerful hooks and genuine lyricism that elevate State Champs to the status of genre-defining giants.

“Let’s cut through the static and be the living proof”, we hear from Albany, New York’s State Champs on their third studio album, Living Proof.

Significantly saturated, the pop-punk music scene has been overflowing with new acts in the last couple of years. State Champs however, seem to have always stood firmly at the forefront of it. Now as they push the boundaries while sticking to their roots and musical aspirations, the band delve deeper into the matter of empowerment, humility, inner triumph and finding the independence within you.

And although Living Proof is no match for their 2015’s sophomore album, Around The World And Back, and they do fall for clichés at times, it still carries enough power and passion to make a significant impact. Embracing the imbalanced nature of human emotions, change and situations you can’t prepare yourself for, State Champs serve us a cohesive array of songs about love, heartache, loss and sorrow.

State Champs thrive in dynamic patterns of tempo alterations and melodic outcomes. Surely a stand-out on the record, Crystal Ball possesses all the elements of an arena-size tune hitting us with singalong chorus and uplifting moral about seizing the moment.

Collaborating with Mark Hoppus from blink-182, who stopped by John Feldmann’s studio unannounced while the band was recording, resulted in Dead And Gone – a bold piece driven by high-powered rhythmics and Derek DiScanio’s frantic vocal performance. The lyrics “I wanna breathe with ease again / I wanna get some fucking sleep again” are destined to cause a massive singalong wave at the band’s live shows.

Despite falling for love-related clichés (The Fix Up & Sidelines), DiScanio’s vocal efforts are reaching new heights. Going from a delicate melodic tone to a harsh timbre in an instant is something we’ve learnt to love and identify with State Champs.

Elsewhere, we’ve got the brutally honest Mine Is Gold which evokes that raw fury and defiant temper they have mastered on their earlier material. It’s about being bullied and doubted, striking with giant chorus and thought-provoking lyrics that are sure to resonate with many listeners. Frankly, I wish there were more songs such as this one on the album.

Singing that “broken pieces can mend” on the emotionally charged Our Time To Go creates a stirring moment that builds up to a monumental crescendo. Next, Cut Through The Static, which the album title is taken from, soars on an adrenaline-charged rush of electrifying guitars and manic drums conveying yet another inspirational message.

However, Living Proof lacks simple acoustic arrangements and we all know that State Champs are pretty good at those. The closest we get to the ballad-esque sonics is the heartbreaking tale Time Machine, featuring Hoppus on guest vocals. Truly relatable and poignant, it will make you feel things throwing melancholy and pain in to the mix.

Hurt but empowered, and perhaps more tone down than ever before, State Champs still shape up a clear vision of modern pop punk spectrum. Whether you’re lost and broken, or hopeful and determined, Living Proof is here to accompany you on your next journey.