Review || State Champs - "Living Proof"

Pop punk heavy weights State Champs release their third LP, "Living Proof" through Pure Noise Records on June 15th of 2018. 

I will get straight to the point. When the opportunity to review "Living Proof" by State Champs rose, I enthusiastically volunteered. Someone could even say that I demanded to give their new record an early preview. See, when a band I really enjoy collaborates with a musician/producer I respect (namely John Feldman), an infamous bassist/vocalist/producer I absolutely admire (Blink 182’s Mark Hoppus) and the two producers behind the very successful State Champs sophomore LP "Around the World and Back" (Mike Green and Kyle Black) and all that on my favorite record label, well then I tend to get excited. Does that sound biased? It is. A significant amount of appropriate opinions on new music by any given band are given by a fan of that band. 

Pop punk is a huge genre on the basis of punk music. From old school Ramones and the entire historic Lookout Records legacy, to the Blink 182 wave and the more contemporary parts of melodic popular punk trends, mixed with emo, alternative and even a bit of hardcore music, the catalog of bands and their place in this genre is practically unending. I am old enough to have lived through all the high points of these landmark moments so far and be affected by each of them at a certain point in my life. Yet, whenever someone mentions the term “pop punk”, we immediately think of cheesy melodic guitar riffs on top of break down drum parts and extra melodic vocals. Coincidentally, this is the part of pop punk I struggled the most to fall in love with; but eventually I did and it is much easier to distinguish the great bands from the mediocre ones; and State Champs belong in the ‘excellent’ category.    "Living Proof" is not a breakthrough record in the pop punk music genre. Essentially it is another record that fits right in with the likes of Knuckle Puck, Man Overboard, New Found Glory, Neck Deep, Trash Boat and at least a dozen more. But wait a minute, is that a bad thing? Those bands have released incredible music. Is "Living Proof" incredible? Yes. The band actually picks up exactly where "Around the World and Back" left off, admittedly trying a select few different things (for instance, "Time Machine" with guest vocals from Mark Hoppus), having another ton of hit songs and a “bigger” produced and fuller sounding record. The secret behind the given success for me is the vocal range of Derek DiScanio and the various groovy musical parts perfectly blended together. This may sound unfair, but I literally don’t care what plays in the background as long as DiScanio’s voice breaks roughly on every hi end of the song; him and Knuckle Puck’s Joe Taylor have that resounding affect on me. Thankfully this happens a lot on "Living Proof".

What I didn’t understand is why the band (?) chose to initially promote the new record with videos for "Dead and Gone", "Our Time to Go" and studio footage videos of "Mine is Gold" and "Crystal Ball"; all good songs - especially "Our Time to Go" and "Crystal Ball" - but my favorite songs on the album are "Criminal", "Frozen", "Lightning", "Safe Haven", "Something About You" and "Sidelines". 

My preference doesn’t really matter in the end. The record could possibly be a song or two shorter but in all honesty I can’t find a bad song on "Living Proof" and that makes it my favorite pop punk record of this year so far and one of my personal best releases of 2018 in general. It’s that simple.
Defend pop punk!        

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