It’s no doubt that New York’s quintet pop punk group State Champs has been making waves since the release of its Pure Noise debut, Overslept, in 2012. Just over a year later, the band is ready to make its mark with its first full-length LP, The Finer Things. With incredible vocal range and intelligent instrumentals, State Champs is no doubt one of the most catchy bands in the genre. With familiar pop punk parts combined with hooks that will get stuck in your head as much as any Top 40 radio song, they have proved they are here to stay.
Opening with “Elevated” – the single that feels like if anything off of Overslept was on steroids – the record gets moving instantly. Incredible melodies and hooks are driving the record down the right road straight into “Deadly Conversation.” The second track starts with an acoustic guitar/vocal duo which hits hard with the first verse when the rest of the band joins in. The song also features a nice little fast part that kicks the energy up another notch. After hearing the band play “Hard to Please” a few months ago, I was very interested in hearing the recorded version. It seemed like a very fun song live and the album version is nothing less than just that. The chorus has one of the most memorable melodies on the entire record. Three songs in, and it is very clear that the record is very driving and naturally flowing.
“Prepare to Be Noticed” starts with a bass line reminiscent of the style present on New Found Glory’s latest LP, Radiosurgery. Quickly following the opening bass line is some very bouncy guitar riffs which smoothly transitions into the first verse. “Over the Line” is one of the catchiest songs on the entire record. This song made it very clear that every song on this record starts off huge. Another thing brought to mind is that every chorus on The Finer Things makes its mark. “Simple Existence” goes outside of the box a little bit with a more mellow vibe. The bridge before the chorus is going to be a huge crowd pleaser. The track also has a very melodic slower part towards the end, with some of the most interesting vocal harmonies on the record.
Before I get to tracks eight and nine, I want to touch on tracks seven and ten. “Remedy” and “Critical” were both featured on the band’s latest EP. I wasn’t really expecting the songs to be different – but rather just a re-recorded rendition. I was pleasantly surprised when both had seen a makeover. They sound a lot bigger and with subtle changes and added guitar parts, the tracks feel new and smarter. The vocals in both songs also feel a lot more energetic. I know that's hard to imagine since the originals were already full of energy. “Nothing’s Wrong” has vocal melodies that put the dudes who write those huge pop songs for the radio to shame. The track also has some guitars that have a nostalgic early 2000s pop punk vibe. “Mind Bottled” will please any fan of faster, in your face pop punk songs. I can see this track being a fan favorite once the record drops, and I would not be surprised if this becomes a concrete member of the band’s foreseeable setlist. The Finer Things says its farewell with “Easy Enough.” The track starts with some very playful guitar/vocal interaction. In my opinion, this is the biggest sounding song on the record, which makes its placement in the track listing very sensible. I can easily see the song closing the bands set in the near future.
Being a frequent user of music websites and such, I see a lot of comparison between State Champs and The Story So Far. Personally, I don’t hear the resemblance in sound. State Champs definitely have their own comfort zone that they have found with The Finer Things. This band’s formula on this record is pretty incomparable to any other in the genre – which is most likely going to create a very bright future for State Champs. Sam Pura and Steve Klein did a wonderful job at capturing this band’s pure sound (record label and producer puns aside). I would not be surprised if The Finer Things brings State Champs the same success that Under Soil and Dirt or The Upsides brought upon The Story So Far and The Wonder Years. Hell, you could consider this record 2013’s Sticks and Stones. It’s one of the most relatable, catchy, intelligent pop punk records in a long time. The Finer Things is just the beginning for this band.