Album Review: State Champs – The Acoustic Things EP

imageUnless you’ve been living under a rock, or simply haven’t paid much attention to the international pop-punk scene of late, you’ll be more then aware that Albany NY’s State Champs are one of the genre’s hottest new bands in years. Their debut LP ‘The Finer Things’ was quite literally a damned fine first effort and a superb offering in its own right, featuring a great mix of raw pop-punk energy and razor sharp melodies and emotive song writing; while managing to avoid the overly sheened production which plagues the genre. While at this year’s Slam Dunk Festivals the four piece where pretty much the most over-subscribed and popular band of the weekend.

With all this in mind it won’t just be Already Heard that are stoked to finally hear what’s next from the band. And that comes in the form of new EP ‘The Acoustic Things’. Now before we all get too excited it should probably be made clear that the description new is probably a mite deceptive. Of the six tracks on offer here, four are actually acoustic re-workings of tracks taken from ‘The Finer Things’ with just the last two being completely new acoustic numbers. To get another niggle out of the way, again re-workings is probably pushing it a little. All four arrangements are very, very similar to the originals, for the most part the only major difference seeming to be that more or less the same guitar parts are being played acoustic rather than electric and that there is a minimum of percussion involved. Although to give the band their due in places there are some very neat and commendably used piano fills used to replace guitar solos.

That said the four tracks from ‘The FinerThings’ are the absolute best tracks from what is a record which only features great songs, so it goes without saying that every song on offer hear is excellent. It merely seems like State Champs could have put a little more effort into mixing the songs up a bit, think for example the way Yellowcard or Mayday Parade did on their acoustic reissues.

One of the biggest pluses of the stripped back nature of the songs is that it further emphasizes two of SC’s prize assets. The main one being the awesome quality of frontman Derek Discanio’s vocals. The acoustic guitars give them so much more room to shine and flex his range, as well as being able to add much more light and shade of emotion on his delivery than on the electric originals. Consequently this also allows much more of the listener’s attention to focus on how good the band’s lyrical output is. SC excel at writing songs that are infinitely catchy and accessible, poetic without being too pretentious or contrived, and loaded with life and feeling without being overly sappy or angst ridden like so many of their peers. Additionally without the layers of distortion it brings home how pristine so many of SC’s melodies are, particularly on tracks like ‘Elevated’ and ‘Deadly Conversation’.

So what of the new tracks ‘Leave You In The Dark’ and ‘If I’m Lucky’? Both numbers are essentially mid tempo, pepped up acoustic ballads highlighted by some absolutely sterling vocal work from Discanio, with the latter being the stronger of the two. Neither are quite as strong or memorable as the album tracks, but like the EP as a whole make for really enjoyable listens, and are tracks that many bands would kill to have in their arsenal. ‘If I’m Lucky’ in particular could make for a nicely placed slower moment in SC’s headlining live shows.

Die hard State Champs fans will gleefully lap up everything on ‘The Acoustic Things’, and even those who only occasionally give the band’s stuff a chance will find it an ideal listen for those chilled out times and moods when full bore pop-punk won’t quite do. Alternatively those giving SC a go for the first time are much better splashing their hard earned cash on the original album to really get the full benefit of the band at their all-out best. All things considered ‘The Acoustic Things’ is a decent enough EP, but could have been something special if the band had spent a little more time and effort really re-working the songs to work to the full acoustic.


‘The Acoustic Things’ EP by State Champs is out now on Pure Noise Records.

State Champs links: Website|Facebook|Twitter

Words by Dane Wright (@MrDaneWright)


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