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STATE CHAMPS - 'Kings Of The New Age' Album Review


1. Here To Stay

2. Eventually

3. Everybody But You

4. Outta My Head

5. Fake It

6. Half Empty

7. Just Sound

8. Act Like That

9. Where Were You

10. Sundress

11. Some Minds Don't Change

Four years after the release of their third album 'Living Proof', Albany Pop-Punk powerhouses State Champs return with their newest effort 'Kings Of The New Age', released on May 13th via Pure Noise Records.

The album opens on a blinding track ‘Here To Stay’, which sets up the album beautifully. It provides a typical, familiar sound that we’ve come to recognise with previous State Champs releases. Fans of State Champs will instantly recognise every aspect that this song puts forward; Derek DiScanio’s distinctive vocals, Tyler Szalkowski’s brilliant guitar riffs, Ryan Scott Graham’s persistent basslines and Evan Ambrosio’s energetic drumming. The lyrics of the chorus triumphantly shout the song’s title, which definitely rings true as the band definitely aren’t leaving the scene anytime soon.

Following this comes the song ‘Eventually’, a song that keeps the typical State Champs energy going. It is a brilliant choice for the final single of the album. Szalkowski’s guitars are frantic but controlled, and are backed up perfectly by Scott Graham’s basslines and Ambrosio’s drumming, and DiScanio’s vocals provide the right amount of punch that make this track beautifully harmonious.

Next up is the first song with a guest feature, ‘Everybody But You’, which makes brilliant use of Neck Deep frontman Ben Barlow. The lyrics are typical Pop Punk fare with that distinctive State Champs flare. The chorus is anthemic and will definitely be remembered for years to come. Barlow’s feature is the cherry on the cake, with his voice working perfectly against DiScanio’s, as well as a cheeky nod to one of his own songs, referencing Neck Deep’s 2014 track ‘A Part Of Me’.

One of the standout tracks on the album in my opinion comes in the form of ‘Fake It’. There’s just something about this track that instantly draws me to it. The rhythm is absolutely perfect, and is one of the best showcases of the entire band’s talents, but DiScanio’s vocals shine through in particular, and the way that the vocals bounce off Ambrosio’s drums is exquisite.

The next track with a feature comes with ‘Half Empty’, which enlists Against The Current’s Chrissy Costanza. This track opens slightly slower than the rest of the album, however the pace soon picks up. This is one of the more emotional and reflective tracks on 'Kings Of A New Age', but it works fantastically in the grand scheme of the album. DiScanio and Costanza’s vocals work so beautifully together to provide some massive sounds that I absolutely love.

The album’s lead single ‘Just Sound’ follows, and, in a different manner to ‘Here To Stay’, is also a perfect introduction to the album as a first point of reference that fans will have heard before the release of the full album. To me, this song is the most reminiscent of 'Living Proof', however it still manages to set itself apart and show that State Champs have transitioned into a new era. For me this is one of the shining examples of State Champs’ production, as I feel like it is one of the cleanest sounding songs on the album.

The penultimate feature on the album comes on the track ‘Act Like That’, which brings in Mitchell Tenpenny. Whilst I haven’t come across Tenpenny’s work before, like the rest of the features within 'Kings Of A New Age', his voice works beautifully with DiScanio’s whilst not overshadowing the State Champs frontman, and Szalkowski’s riff underneath Tenpenny’s verse is perhaps one of my favourite pieces of guitar work on the album.

The final feature of the album presents itself on the track ‘Sundress’, which features the iconic Massachusetts group Four Year Strong. Once again, DiScanio’s vocals shine brilliantly in an extremely summery sounding song, blending with the backing vocals from the rest of the band amazingly, and complimenting the lighter instrumentals. This is perhaps my joint favourite feature on 'Kings Of A New Age' alongside ‘Everybody But You’, with Four Year Strong’s part of the song being short and sweet, but still packing a punch.

The album finishes on a triumphant note with ‘Some Minds Don’t Change’, which contains another memorable, anthemic chorus that has been stuck in my head for ages, especially with the way the title of the song is delivered. It is the perfect way to end an absolutely phenomenal album, and I can certainly see this track becoming a staple within the band’s live shows.

'Kings Of A New Age' is a brilliant, star-studded reminder of what State Champs do best. Instead of shifting gears in order to top their previous records, this new album feels more like a continuation rather than a follow-up, and what a fantastic continuation it is. They maintain the same attitude from their past three albums whilst still managing to keep a fresh sound that doesn’t get boring, something that I would’ve thought near impossible after such fantastic albums in 'Living Proof' and 'Around The World and Back'. With so many other Pop Punk bands gaining success in a market with tough competition, I would wager that State Champs are, indeed, the Kings of the new age of Pop Punk, and in a few years’ time will be regarded in the same way as bands such as Green Day, Fall Out Boy and Blink-182.

Simply put, it is 35 minutes of pure Pop Punk perfection.

Review - Gordon Rae

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