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Album Review: State Champs – Unplugged

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Release Date: 14/08/2020

Record Label: Pure Noise Records

For Fans Of: Neck Deep, With Confidence, ROAM

What better way to mark your ten-year anniversary as a band than by releasing the most charming and perfect EP in Unplugged? Pop-punk heavyweights State Champs are linchpins of the scene following the unwavering success they’ve had throughout the last decade but this record takes the band in a different direction that showcases the versatility that the four-piece are capable of. This isn’t just a release of reimagined tracks, it’s four brand-new original songs and two classics from their catalogue that are given quite the makeover. 

Unplugged delivers State Champs fans some first-class gems, with ‘10am’ being the most endearing and dreamy of pop tracks. It’s gentle, it’s relaxing, and it’s likely to leave a smile on your face that won’t budge. ‘A Thousand Hearts’ and ‘The Recipe’ are the most divine of lullabies that are as spellbinding as they are infectious, and you’ll be singing along in no time at all; the former even has some killer saxophone in it so… what’s not to love? The pick of the new tracks is without a doubt ‘Crying Out Loud’ but that’s not necessarily a sentiment that the band shared initially. “‘Crying Out Loud’ took us the longest to get to a place where we truly felt excited about the song” claims frontman Derek DiScanio. “Once we got there, we knew this emotionally heavy, yet upbeat tune about breakup, loneliness, and moving on would be a solid single”.

There’s a freshness to Unplugged, enthusiasm and vibrancy that is remarkable after this long in the game. The Unplugged EP is special for us for many reasons, one main reason being the writing process. We feel like we really went back to our roots, you know, just the band, in a room with an acoustic guitar, writing songs and having funDiScanio explains, “We tend to execute our best material in an environment that is stress free and organic.“. This State Champs release would suggest the band aren’t wrong, with the outfit clearly revelling in the environment Unplugged was created in.

State Champs fans will be no strangers to ‘Criminal’ and ‘Dead and Gone’, both fan-favourites from 2018’s Living Proof, but they’ve undergone quite the transformation; swapping the backwards baseball cap for a Stetson in both cases- The reimagined alter-ego’s of the tracks sound like they’re from Tennessee in contrast to their New York counterparts. Unsurprisingly, State Champs pull it off in a manner that proves their adaptability and boldness are second to none.

State Champs aren’t trying to escape their pop-punk image with Unplugged, they’re trying to broaden their musical horizons and keep their music-making process as enjoyable as their first-ever band practice. In fact, it’s that care-free punk spirit which fuels their hunger to push boundaries and experiment in this way. For ten years State Champs have been at the top of the pile in the pop-punk scene, and they don’t look like they’re climbing down anytime soon.

Rating: 8/10

Recommended Track: ‘Crying Out Loud’

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