In an era where every artist is transitioning to emo or pop, State Champs can rightfully call themselves the Kings of The New Age. By going back to their pop punk roots, they’re bringing the lightheartedness back to the scene. After years of experimenting with their sound, the Albany band has honed in on a sound that’s uniquely theirs. Kings of the New Age has exciting hooks, electrifying instrumentals, and unique guest features. For those who grew up dancing in the pit at Warped Tour, this is the soundtrack for your summer.
Immediately, the pop-punk quartet let us know they aren’t messing around. The opening track, “Here To Stay,” is a message to fans that their band is back. It’s been four years since State Champs’ last album, but it was worth the wait. “Here To Stay” is full of energy and deserves to be blasting through your speakers. With lyrics about being unabashedly yourself, the album is off to a strong start.
Next, we’re hit with “Eventually,” “Everybody But You,” and “Out of My Head.” These three tracks were previously released as singles, yet still go hard. They show that the band can hit classic pop punk riffs, while still having smooth production and vocals. Lyrically, the band has grown, while still keeping it playful. Plus, with a feature from Ben Barlow of Neck Deep, it’s a circle pit kid’s dream.
Tracks like “Fake It” and “Everybody But You” show the downsides of relationships that lead to a breakup. There is also the struggle of a long distance relationship exemplified in “Just Sound.” Then, the song “Half Empty” shares all the good in being with someone who loves you despite your flaws. Additionally, “Half Empty” has an incredible verse from Chrissy Constanza of Against The Current. Her voice balances frontman Derek’s well to create a magical song.
“Act Like That” is one of a kind as it shares the story of falling for someone who matches your energy. And even better, there’s a feature from country-pop singer, Mitchell Tenpenny. State Champs excels with collaborations that may seem outside of their comfort zone. Tenpenny absolutely rocks his lines and it fits well with not only the song, but the overall feel of the album. And as an added bonus, we get a killer guitar solo before Mitchell’s verse.
“Where Were You” is a Champs classic that turns heartbreak into a song that has everyone dancing. With a smooth melody and crisp drums, it’s a recipe for success. Afterwards, we get “Sundress,” a song with alluring lyrical imagery. And, we get another feature from titans of the pop punk scene, Four Year Strong. It’s amazing to see the band collaborate with musicians that have clearly been a source of inspiration for years.
Lastly, Kings of the New Age closes with “Some Minds Don’t Change.” Which, is a great closer to fit with the overall theme of leaving behind those who no longer add value to your life. Whether it’s a romantic relationship or any other connection, there’s no space for people who won’t grow with you. It’s sometimes a hard lesson to learn, but it’s an important one. Plus, State Champs rocks while doing so.
Overall, the album shows a lot of lyrical and musical growth from the band. Kings of the New Age leans heavier into State Champ’s pop punk roots. However, they kept the elements that worked for them from their more pop-leaning albums. They’ve found a good balance between clean and heavier sounds. Also, the features from artists of varying genres only further rounds out the album. It’s definitely a strong contender for State Champ’s best album so far. With so many back to back jams, Kings of the New is a must-listen-to this summer and is bound to be even more fun live.