Written by Amy Geis
Can we all agree the release of a sophomore album is exhilarating, yet stressful for all parties involved? Albany boys, State Champs, have just brought that heart-pumping feeling into all of our lives with Around The World and Back. Is this going to have a sophomore curse or is it going to melt our faces off? I think everyone suspected the latter, and no surprise there, correct they were.
Like many artists nowadays, State Champs teased fans with a few pre-released songs. While on tour this summer with Hit The Lights, the band shared “Secrets” and even added it to their setlist. Bringing the classic State Champs sound fans expected, it instantly became a fan favorite. A buoyant and perky song with lyrics holding a deeper, underlying message – if that’s not a pop punk song, I don’t know what is.
Something that sets State Champs apart from the other pop punk bands is singer, Derek DiScanio’s voice. He’s got a unique sound that is embroidered with skill and an impressive vocal range. I’ve come to notice frontmen in bands can sing, sure, but is there actual talent behind the pretty face? DiScanio has claimed his spot as a powerful singer.
The band hasn’t been tainted by the music industry, they keep their music real. You can immediately tell when “big brother” starts to intervene in an artist’s music. In eleven tracks, this album takes a look at different balances of instrumental accompaniment, smooth and exciting vocals, along with a variety of writing styles all unique to how they define themselves as a band.
One of my favorites off the album is “All You Are Is History.” This punchy song gets down and dirty with the feelings of being completely, absolutely, unquestionably done with someone. “I’ve had enough of all the talk on how you’re saving me / Talk like you’re self-assured but all you are is history,” DiScanio belts out. “Perfect Score,” “All Or Nothing,” and “Eyes Closed” all come equiped with catchy choruses, careful and crisp guitars, and confident vocals. Perfect for live shows and engaging the crowd with a vibrant performance.
Around The World and Back is a quality album full of flawless pop punkness.
“Shape Up” is a generic fuck the haters, making yourself a better person song. Musically, this track is one I can see being a huge live hit. It’s got that amazing guitar progression and a chorus easily chanted, “So I’ll tell myself that I’m not a victim /
But I’ll own up to the mistakes that I made.”
One of the things I love about State Champs, which proves to still stand true with this album, is that they aren’t sad. They have songs like “Losing Myself,” but they lyrical take these thoughts and struggles and don’t give them that typical emo sound that can be heartbreaking. (Also, does “Losing Myself” remind anyone else of Issues?)
We can always count on the acoustic, ballad-y song from State Champs. DiScanio’s voice is no stranger to these types of songs, especially after the band released The Acoustic Things last year. The title track to this album is a beautifully harmonized duet featuring Ansley Newman of Jule Vera. The fellas have been touring and traveling all over the world since the release of their debut album, The Finer Things, in 2013 and this track embodies having to deal with being away from loved ones during that time.
Around The World and Back is a quality album full of flawless pop punkness. They are playing a large part in the redefining of pop punk and I’m excited to watch this band grow into a massive success because, mark my words, it will happen. We are lucky to be alive in the time of State Champs. (Too much? Sorry.)