The self-branded Kings of the New Age, State Champs checked all the boxes with their new album set to release May, 13 2022 via Pure Noise Records. Pop punk is always evolving, and the four-piece prove they can stay relevant. I’ll be the first to say Kings of the New Age is not The Finer Things, but it incorporates the best elements of it while introducing a new sound. Each track is special in their own way, and the album as a whole is perfect for windows-down weather. With the group playing on this year’s Sad Summer Fest, these songs will be a great addition to the set list.

“Here To Stay” defines the whole album with the opening line, “kings of the new age,” expressing that the band isn’t leaving the scene anytime soon. The last full-length from State Champs was Living Proof in 2018. They’ve grown a lot since that album, and this track represents their evolution as humans and as a band. As a long time fan of State Champs, it’s comforting to hear them take it back to classic pop punk.

The eclectic vibe continues in singles “Eventually,” “Outta My Head” and “Everybody but You.” These songs, along with “Just Sound” that comes later on the track list, were the first tastes of this album and it was sweet. While these will all be set list staples for years to come, they’re not the shining stars overall. The addition of Ben Barlow will go down in history for one of the most epic features, for sure.

Back to the new shit, “Fake It” is described as the brainchild of not going crazy during the pandemic and not taking tours for granted anymore. The past two years have really proved life is short and we should be living it to the fullest. Coming from an avid concert-goer perspective, the lyrics, “I’m missing what was in front of me,” hit close to home. Now that shows are back, I don’t want to lose them and I’m sure artists feel the same.

“Half Empty” is a ballad that makes this record so diverse. Featuring one of the pop punk queens herself, Chrissy Costanza, it’s the perfect song to crowd surf to while crying. The bridge is heartbreakingly beautiful and the harmonies at the end tie it all together. This is without a doubt one of my favorite Champs tracks of all time. It’s a little off vibe wise for SSF, but I’d love to hear the collaboration live someday.

“Act Like That” is the track sparking the most curiosity, as it features country star Mitchell Tenpenny, but turns out there was nothing to worry about. The huge debate over this track is “will it sound country?,” and honestly I’m going to leave that for everyone to figure out on release day.

The band mentioned the last three tracks would be the “most pop punk” on the record and they weren’t kidding. “Where Were You” gives off heavy “Around the World and Back” vibes, meaning a lot of longtime fans are going to be pleased. I try to never show bias when writing about my favorite bands, but damn this album seriously proves why they’ve been at the top for so long. This song suits the overall album and their personalities so well. They’ve worked hard on fine-tuning their craft and it’s extremely prevalent in this release.

We’ve reached the penultimate track “Sundress,” featuring fellow Pure Noise label mates Four Year Strong. The way Derek DiScanio carries his vocals at the start is familiar sounding — I can’t match the vocal pattern but it suits his voice. I imagined the song going closer to the hardcore path with FYS featured, and hopefully one day we get a hardcore Champs track. That’s just not suited for this release, as “Sundress” has light, airy, springtime vibes and is very catchy.

Champs couldn’t have picked a better closing track than “Some Minds Don’t Change.” This is by far the best track instrumentally and you can pick out the distinct parts performed by Tyler Szalkowski, Ryan Scott Graham, and Evan Ambrosio. The flow of this track is very thought out and deliberate, proving they took care in making KOTNA the best record they could.

All in all, this effort is a win from front to back. The takeaway being, “fuck what everyone else thinks and do what you love,” shines bright in each track. I started listening to this band when I was 12 — now being 22, I’ve also grown up with the themes present in each album. I didn’t even have a true career when the pandemic hit: I was a waitress, and yet these songs manage to explain just how I’m feeling. Honestly, I believe even people who don’t like this State Champs will appreciate this album.

Kings of the New Age is officially out May 13 on all streaming platforms, which also happens to be Friday the 13th. You can also hear some of these tracks live on the band’s current U.K. tour or at the forthcoming Sad Summer Fest. KOTNA has album of the year written all over it. Let us know what song you’re looking forward to hearing the most. and make sure to stay tuned for the latest on all things State Champs when Spinning Thoughts takes on So What?! Fest 2022.

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TAGS: State Champs | Pure Noise Records | Sad Summer Fest | Ben Barlow | Chrissy Costanza | Mitchell Tenpenny | So What?! Fest

Hannah Clough

Twitter: @xMinexIsxGoldx

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