Pop-punk heavyweights State Champs have earned a sizeable fanbase in their time as a band. Their latest album “Living Proof” had been eagerly awaited since the success of their album “Around the World and Back” in 2015.
With less of the distorted guitars and speedy tempos seen in previous albums, State Champs have somewhat abandoned their punk suffix on their latest release in favour of a more accessible poppy approach.
The band’s instrumentation on “Living Proof” is fairly varied and dynamic with some pretty fun basslines on tracks like “Cut Through the Static”. And Derek DiScanio’s vocals are by no means bad, but his melodies are often clichéd with repetitive, trite singalongs and predictable, vague-enough-to-be-relatable lyrics, making the album feel fairly derivative and dull in spite of the band’s ambition in straying from their original formula. The quality and clarity of the recording leaves nothing to be desired and sounds great. But some of the production choices on the album, such as the seemingly incessant echo effect present on every song, quickly become tiresome. They indeed make the songs feel a bit samey taking away from the versatility of the musicianship on each song.
“Living Proof” works well as a collection of catchy summer anthems, but is on the whole unremarkable. The band sound sanitized and castrated of their original grit and the album lacks substance, making their change of direction feel like a bit of a flop in contrast to their more spunky early works.