EP REVIEW: State Champs – Unplugged

Release Date: August 14th 2020
Label: Pure Noise Records
Website: www.statechampsny.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/statechampsny
Twitter: www.twitter.com/state_champs

Rating:

New York’s State Champs may be renowned for being high octane pop-punk favourites, but as 2014’s ‘The Acoustic Things’ showcased they’re just as capable at creating epic ballads too.

Now, six years later, they’re ready to follow-up and provide more stripped back goods with their second acoustic EP, aptly titled ‘Unplugged’.

Opener ‘A Thousand Hearts’ demonstrates perfectly how this band refuse to do anything half-heartedly. Although it may seem like your quintessential pop-punk love song, the addition of a soul infused saxophone provided by Saxl Rose completely raises the bar, adding a real jazz influence.

This soon transitions into EP standout ‘The Recipe’, where frontman Derek DiScanio‘s vocals are the best that they’ve ever sounded. It would certainly be interesting to hear this one transpire into a full band version in the future.

Taken from their 2018 full-length ‘Living Proof’, both ‘Criminal’ and ‘Dead And Gone’ have been reworked for this new EP. The original ‘Criminal’ is arguably one of the best opening tracks on a pop-punk record, but has been shaken up entirely and given an almost folk-like overhaul, and rather than the epic drop into the chorus is replaced by the delicate twang of a guitar.

As for ‘Dead And Gone’, it showcases how State Champs have clearly taken into account the difference in the tone between the original and this new version, and have opted to remove the one line which goes down a storm at live shows, “I need to get some fucking sleep again”, and replace it with “finally get some sleep again”. Although the slight change works well with this more bare bones re-working, fans will no doubt be surprised by the change.

’10am’ delves into an emotional rollercoaster. It’s a song about questioning your own worth in a relationship, eloquently expressed in the gut-wrenching chorus “When will my love just be enough? / When will my love not be a crutch?”.

As they celebrate their tenth anniversary this year, it still feels like the band have so much to offer. ‘Unplugged’ is just the right stop gap that we needed to hear from State Champs before they move onto album number four.