EP Review: State Champs – Unplugged
State Champs are a band best-known for upbeat pop-punk bangers like Secrets and Elevated, but despite the peppy nature of the New York quartet’s music, there’s a tender heart to their songs that belies the power chords and mosh-ready choruses. It’s something the band demonstrated with their well-received 2014 EP The Acoustic Things – particularly in the case of lead-single If I’m Lucky – and now State Champs are once more stripping things back for Unplugged, their first record since 2018 album Living Proof.
Unplugged comprises four new tracks and two acoustic re-workings, and while there’s nothing exactly ground-breaking here, fans of both State Champs and summery, laid-back music in general will find much to enjoy here. Of the new tunes, Crying Out Loud stands out most thanks to its hooky chorus and sprightly guitar melodies, though the gentle campfire love song A Thousand Hearts runs it close, particularly when the latter introduces a saxophone to bring things to a romantic conclusion. Elsewhere, the sickly-sweet 10 AM finds frontman Derek DiScanio questioning ‘When will my love just be enough?’ to a backdrop of muted effects, with The Recipe proving a similarly functional dose of acoustic pop-punk.
As for the new versions of Criminal and Dead & Gone – both taken from Living Proof – the former is easy enough on the ear albeit hardly attention-grabbing, but the fresh take on Dead & Gone is a fine alternative to the original, and one that allows Derek’s wholehearted lyrics to shine.
It’s all done rather well, and the end result of State Champs’ second crack at acoustic experimentation is a solid collection of stripped-back jams that’ll prove the ideal soundtrack to lazy summer days.
For Fans Of: All Time Low, Neck Deep, Waterparks
Unplugged is out on August 14 via Pure Noise.
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