State Champs, founded in Albany, New York back in 2010 by vocalist Derek DiScanio and guitarist Tyler Szalkowski, quickly cemented themselves as frontrunners in the pop punk genre. Living Proof is album number three for the quintet and they worked with producers John Feldman, Mike Green and Kyle Black for this one, and wrote songs with the likes of Alex Gaskarth of All Time Low and Mark Hoppus of Blink-182. Bassist Ryan Scott Graham, rhythm guitarist Tony ‘Rival’ Diaz and drummer Evan Ambrosio join DiScanio and Szalkowski to round out the five-piece.
The first track we are treated to is Criminal, which opens like pop punk should, with the guitars and vocals first. The track has a really great beat that is easy to get lost in, and there will be singing along and human pogoing happening when played live. As far as opening tracks go, Criminal is a really good one, especially in terms of energy and it sets listeners up for what’s coming next.
Frozen is next and lyrically puts a smile on your face. If you’re after a love song on a pop-punk record, it isn’t really hard to find and Frozen lyrically, at least to my interpretation is one. DiScanio has great vocal range and he gets to show it off here, and Scott Graham also gets to demonstrate his bass playing abilities during the verses.
Track three is Crystal Ball and starts off slower than the previous two tracks, but not slow enough that any of the momentum and energy is lost. This track also highlights both Szalkowski and Diaz’s guitar playing abilities, and the two do an excellent job of complimenting each other musically.
Dead & Gone is track four and was co-written by Blink-182’s bassist Mark Hoppus which was not a planned event, but Hoppus just happened to show up while State Champs were recording with John Feldman. It’s a track that has a bit of a depressing title, but in true pop-punk fashion is quite happy and uplifting. Dead & Gone has a great chorus that is definitely going to have fans singing along and might become a crowd favourite quite quickly.
Lightning is next opens on drums and Ambrosio absolutely kills it. It’s a great way to start a song. Whilst Dead & Gone was a little bit slower, Lightning brings the energy and the pace straight back up again. Musically, each member of the band gets a chance to show off their skill with featured parts throughout the track, which is a nice touch.
Our Time to Go is track six and is the first acoustic track for the album, or at least it starts off with an acoustic guitar and DiScanio and then becomes a full band track around the 35 second mark. The only way I can think of to describe this track is a fast ‘slow’ song, or a slow ‘fast’ song.
Track seven is Safe Haven and is a song that doesn’t deserve to be buried around the middle of the record, but when there are so many other strong tracks you’re left with little choice. Whilst it’s a rock song, there is also a lot of opportunity between verses and choruses for you to be dancing during this one.
Something About You comes next and starts off as a pretty bass-heavy song, with Scott Graham supporting DiScanio, this trend continuing during the verses of the track. The chorus of this track, while simple, could work as either a break-up, or a love song, as is the case with most pop-punk songs.
Next is The Fix Up, and starts off as a slower track and you immediately visualise a crowd waving their hands back and forth, singing along and shining the torch lights on their phones while it gets played live.
Cut Through the Static is track ten and contains the lyric that the album title comes from, “Let’s cut through the static and be the living proof.” It’s a track that is hard to describe as it’s a very open to interpretation type song, but it’s another highlight on the album.
Mine is Gold is next up and was the third single from ‘Living Proof’ to be released and even though it’s track eleven of thirteen, the energy doesn’t dip, and neither does the quality. It’s very much an “F* you” to an ex-girlfriend or boyfriend. This is solidified with their chorus lyric, “Your heart is black and mine is gold,” which is where the song title comes from.
The second to last song on the album is Time Machine, and this track takes a completely different direction to the rest of the album and opens with piano. It’s also a very different style of song for State Champs, especially on this album and is a risky move that pays off.
Sidelines is last, but definitely not least and of all the tracks on the record is the one that works best to close it out. It’s the only track on the album, and this has quite possibly been done on purpose, that ends by being faded out.
The guys from New York really do show off their versatility during ‘Living Proof,’ and it’s really easy to see why State Champs are one of the biggest pop-punk acts going around today.
You can pre-order your copy of ‘Living Proof’, out June 15th via Pure Noise Records/Sony Australia HERE!