Review: State Champs – Around The World And Back
Around The World And Back
State Champs have done a hell of a lot since they put out The Finer Things in 2013. That album was an undeniably great debut, even if just for giving us another tasty slice of the pop-punk pie we so desperately craved. As such, it skyrocketed in popularity, stuffed the five-piece into a cannon and shot them headfirst into a whirlwind of mainstream attention and international stardom. It’s been a hectic couple of years since for the New York stalwarts (for better and for worse), and Around The World And Back encapsulates all of that. Furthermore, it presents a stronger and more unrestricted sound from a band that could have very easily played things safe with a Finer Things 2.0.
Like its predecessor, Around The World And Back feels somewhat familiar upon first listen. The guys have taken what’s worked for their peers, tweaked the formula to bring the volume up a couple dozen notches, and thrown in a drop or two of their own intoxicating flavour. Song structures pan out exactly the way you think they will, and you won’t get far into the record without hearing about an ex or three, but the way in which all of that is delivered feels a lot fresher than expected.
Musically, the album is loaded from start to finish with head-banging, sweat-dripping energy. Things kick off with the surefire hit “Eyes Closed” and lead single “Secrets”, and from there, the fire keeps on burning. The album’s title track – which features some stunning guest vocals from Ansley Newman of Jule Vera – serves as its unavoidable slow jam, and feels a tad out of place amongst the otherwise perpetual sprightliness. In saying that, if the worst song on your record is a swoon-worthy acoustic number, it’s safe to say you have a pretty great record on your hands. Smashing out spine-tingling snare notes at a thousand miles a minutes, drummer Evan Ambrosio almost takes the spotlight away from vocalist Derek DiScanio, his invigorated crackling the first notable and consistent element throughout.
Arena tours with 5 Seconds of Summer and endorsements from All Time Low have certainly given State Champs a leg up in the music industry, but it’s always the music itself that has the final say. Around The World And Back pipes up with a “fuck yeah”, slips on its sunnies, and skateboards off into the horizon, smugly aware that it’s the best pop-punk album of 2015.