Now, State Champs has danced around the scene for years by putting the “Pop” into Pop Punk. Their debut LP “The Finer Things” back in 2013 showed us there can be a refined but raw sound in Pop Punk with hooks given left and right as the instrumentals are able to shine all in their own right. As they evolved as a band, it felt as if their sound merged with it. The emphasis on Pop in Pop Punk began to tip the scale more and more, which was extremely evident in their latest release (before this) in 2018: “Living Proof.” Let’s dive in to see what the “Kings of the New Age” are bringing to 2022.
I want to preface this review by saying that this record has me very torn because my opinion on it may be a tad controversial, and I would say it is backed up in musical realism.
So, marginally speaking, this album is not my favorite. I found that this record was very generic, felt over-edited, and it didn’t capture my interest enough for me to stay engaged while listening to it: I had to force myself to stay focused. This may come across as a bit harsh, and I would say that’s fair; however, knowing what State Champs is capable of- I’m just note vibing with the result.
In general, we are hearing a lot of stereotypical instrumental approaches throughout the make. We have relatable themes generated into rhyme schemes to create catchy lyrics to stick with the listener. We also have the traditional drum set-up to support and retain the groves of the piece. There is some extrapolation of the guitar and bass parts throughout represented through small riffs and counter-lines to bring more to the song. This is the general foundation of each selection. Strategic silence and the use of contrast is sprinkled throughout, but it is not present enough to make the songs feel different from one another. All the tracks could easily be mistaken for another in several instances.
One aspect of this album that really pains me would be the over-editing. For the majority of the record, there is this raspy, almost radio-static gloss over the vocals. This comes across as gimmicky instead of crafty and diverse as I believe was the intent. I will say that the choruses of each selection resonate with the true State Champs flair as they are memorable and highlight the strengths of the band’s writing style.
If the tracks related more towards their choruses and less like their radio-edited sound: I think this would be a very different review.
I am not here to say only negative aspects about their work because there are a few moments on the record that I find to be intriguing and innovative; however, I don’t want to sugarcoat my experience. I have listened to a lot of music in this genre, and I know for a fact that I am not going to remember this album here in a few weeks.
If you are a tried and true State Champs fan, you will likely enjoy this record. To me, I would put this album at a 2.5 out of 5 stars, but there could also be some discussion for a 3 out of 5 stars as it is a solid project and conventionally has a lot of moving parts that work together to be okay. I suppose, as it has been 4 years since their last release: I was expecting more.
*”Kings of the New Age” was released on May 13th, 2022 through Pure Noise Records.