After a sparkling year touring with the likes of Motion City Soundtrack, Bayside and What’s Eating Gilbert, alongside releasing the fantastic Overslept E.P, State Champs carry on their winning streak with the passionate, perfectly-crafted and poignant album, The Finer Things.
The album opens with driving track Elevated, which does elevate you into the mix with creepy feedback moving into chugging chords and pounding drums before the instantly recognizable vocals of Tyler Szalkowski appear, offering uplifting positive lyrics with hope in every syllable. This winds down into Deadly Conversation with its heart soothing acoustic introduction suddenly pounding into what pop punk really should be, powerful chords with a beautiful technicality against the heartbeat of drums and raw lyrics. Prepare to Notice and Mind Bottled have a totally different feel, centering over the more infectious “poppy” side of pop-punk with a slower tempo, lyrical hooks along with guitar riffs so sharp they reel you in before you even know what’s happening. Yet it doesn’t stray too far from their punk roots with an electric atmosphere created from the drudging drums in the background, as if they could explode at any second into a full blown raucous assault.
It dawned on me with this album, that Overslept was simply a teaser, marked by the return of Remedy and one of my all time favourite songs, Critical. Both have been given a glossy new makeover being re-mixed and re-mastered to make two fantastic tracks practically perfect. The former’s visceral shouts now have a more jagged edge, the guitars screech louder, the drums bang harder and the punch of the song hits home even further and deeper than ever before. Critical still has the same spine-tingling intro incorporating faster-than-lightning drumming and fretting before plunging into a hectically fast tempo. The song winds down to a soulful, soft interlude before coming back stronger than ever, can this song possibly be topped? Honestly? Yes it can.
Closing track Easy Enough almost sounds as if it doesn’t belong on this album with its kooky intro, though you suddenly find out you could not be more wrong when it suddenly sways into an anthem of a pop-punk song. It demonstrates everything this band is great at; their controlled and harmonic use of guitars, the leisurely and hard crunch of drums, the effortlessly beautiful use of vocals, whilst also bringing in strange, new elements such as gang vocals creating a spine-tingling climax to an incredible release, and an incredible year for a hard-working band.