Album Review: State Champs – Around The World and Back

Having a beloved debut can always be a tricky task and with album number two, State Champs find themselves facing the second album syndrome challenge where they have to better 2013s ‘The Finer Things’. Whilst ‘Around The World and Back’ could have been a rehashed version of their debut, the New Yorkers up their game by producing a slick, punchy collection of songs that will widen their appeal.

Straight away early songs like ‘Eyes Closed’ and ‘Losing Myself’ push forward the larger-than-life hooks with rapid tempos and the overall instrumentation being totally pop punk. Whereas ‘Secrets’ and ’All You Are Is History’ contain two of the most infectious choruses the genre has produced all year. Helped along by Derek DiScanio’s radiant vocals, they simply make you want to bounce around like no one cares.

One change that has been discussed in the lead up to the release of ‘Around The World and Back’ is the band’s move towards a pop-rock sound. Whilst some may not agree with it, you’d be mistaken not to think ‘Perfect Score’ and ‘All or Nothing’ was All Time Low. This isn’t a hinderance. The latter track notably favours a well-paced structure that welcomes a change from the staight up pop punk style.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vsJEC3Ar_ss&w=100&h=420]

Whilst the bittersweet title track sees the band place their feet firmly in the acoustic pop punk territory; soothing strings, stripped back acoustics and Ansley Newman (of Jule Vera) providing the expected female touch with heartwarming harmonies. Admittedly its a bit mushy and sweet yet it has a favourable charm. Yet at the other end of the spectrum, ‘Breaking Ground’ sees SC test their might with (slighty) sharper guitars and dynamic drum work.

Whereas ‘The Finer Things’ lacked lyrical substance, ‘Around The World and Back’ fixes this issue by taking a grounded approach through a range of emotions; self-discovery, holding grudges, losing close friends and family, letting go, positivity etc. Sure it’s a tried and tested format but for State Champs work.

Principally State Champs have succeeded in producing another selection of flourishing pop punk jams that sees the quintet subtly tread on the pop-rock borderline. An improved outing that doesn’t stray from the blueprint that won so many over last time round.

3.5/5

‘Around the World and Back’ by State Champs is released on October 16th on Pure Noise Records.

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Words by Sean Reid (@SeanReid86)

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