State Champs
Kings of the New Age

On the latest offering of music from Albany, NY’s pop-punk band State Champs hone in on what their band does best, and still leave room for new added elements to their trademark sound. The band was at their most proficient, narrowing down over 30 songs to the 11 found on Kings of the New Age, and we’re left with the tracks they felt best represented this latest chapter of their musical discovery. The set of songs was produced by Drew Fulk (Ice Nine Kills, Lil Wayne) and he does a great job of bringing the band’s authentic songwriting to the forefront of the production. The album contains four songs with outside collaborators, including the single “Everybody But You” featuring Ben Barlow, and each of these guest spots lend themselves well to the overall sound State Champs went for. The band shared this about the album direction, “Lyrically, KOTNA is a reflection on the past few years during a very weird time. However, it is also a reminder that we’re only here for so long. Although we always live and learn by trial and error in areas like friendships, family, careers, relationships, etc., there’s no time for toxicity and negativity when a certain opportunity presents itself. Never waste a moment that can be seized. Times are changing, culture is evolving, and we’re happy to provide the soundtrack and let you know that we’re here to stay. Welcome to the new age.” With their pop-punk flag firmly planted, State Champs may have just provided us with the soundtrack to help remind us of the care free days and the endless possibilities of a summer that could change our lives for the better.

Launching the record off on the right foot with the bouncy “Here To Stay” puts the good vibes directly in the forefront of the musical direction. The lyrics focus partly on the band’s aforementioned quote about the limited time we have to make an impact on this crazy world as they sing, “No one ever told me it would be like that / Just another pebble in the hourglass / Pause the time, for piece of mind / And hope this wouldn’t stay the same.” “Eventually” follows the breezy opener with some great guitar work from Tyler Szalkowski and complements the vocal approach from Derek DiScanio nicely.

My personal favorite comes in the form of the single “Everybody But You,” that opens with some causally strummed acoustic guitar that bleeds away after the vocal intro for a great, anthemic song about being fed up with that one person who can’t make themselves available when you need them the most. Other tracks like “Fake It” take on the topic of finding the right balance in our work and personal life. DiScanio sums it up nicely in the vibrant chorus, “Saying oh, we made it / Nobody knows we’re empty, so we fake it / Right through to that Monday smile / We’re, we’re still reminded / Can’t be divided / That’s when you know / We made it / Just keep me saying alright.”

State Champs do a good job of mixing up mid-tempo tracks like “Half Empty” and “Act Like That” with more energetic songs like “Where Were You” and “Sundress” (featuring Four Year Strong) to bring a creative balance to the set of songs found on Kings of the New Age. Closing out with the song about being boiled over with frustration with a hard-headed individual on “Some Minds Don’t Change,” the band still takes it all in stride with a sing-a-long chorus. “I watched you fall away / Evade accountability / Given you all that you wanted and more / Now it’s all too late / We were on to something great / But you had no patience to see what’s in store,” finds State Champs exploring the human element in relationships, and finding the right time to cut ties with the negative people in our lives that are bogging us down.

State Champs could’ve gone in multiple directions on their fourth studio album. They decided to dig their feet into the pop-punk sound that they are nearly perfecting on Kings of the New Age that wears their influences proudly on their sleeves, and still points a clear path forward for where they can take their sound next. For now, the band is content to expand upon the sound that their fans have come to love, and in turn, may have made the album that longtime fans will adore for years to come.