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State Champs - Unplugged | EP Review


State Champs going unplugged on first reception sounds like a bad idea. A band renown for explosive live shows and epic pop-punk chorus’ making an acoustic album doesn’t add up. Despite that first impression, the Albany pop-punk rockers have subverted expectations. By distilling what they do best they’ve provided fans with a short, sweet EP full of hooks featuring some of the most adventurous bridges that pay off with a wonderful pair of re-releases to boot. Not a bad 10th anniversary present at all.

Opening the release with ‘A Thousand Hearts’ it’s clear that Derek DiScanio’s vocals are more than up to the task. Substituting the raspy intensity their chorus’ are usually filled with, for a silken pronunciation. DiScanio's multi-layered vocal melodies make for third chorus euphoria at the end of ‘The Recipe’. Tyler Szalkowski, Ryan Scott Graham & Evan Ambrosia earn their keep all the same.

The musicianship shown off is impressive in the shape that only occurs when artists flex muscles you don’t expect them to even own. By distilling their writing process down to an acoustic guitar they’ve left themselves enough room to do exactly that. With the brass section of the bridge in ‘A Thousand Hearts’ a perfect example of that excellence.

The band are promoting Unplugged with single ‘Crying Out Loud’. Despite its summer upbeat sounds, it reflects the sort of emotional severity in the lyrics the band have been capable of time and again. Fan favourite ‘Criminal’ from the band’s previous full length Living Proof gets a fresh facelift. Left almost unrecognisable in tone, only the infectiously catchy chorus remaining so familiar. With so much to love on this EP it’s easy to wish for a longer release. But in the context of palette cleanser between Living Proof and what is sure to be another successful full length in the future, it’s almost perfect.

Score: 8/10

Unplugged is out August 14th via Pure Noise Records. Pre-order the EP here.

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