BY DREW LACOUTURE
Pop-punk defenders State Champs return with a slightly more polished record that, while not as impressive as “The Finer Things,” these eleven tracks help keep them as one of the front runners of the genre.
Structure wise the songs are simple as it gets (verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, chorus) and it would have been cool to hear the group diversify their writing in the same way “The Story So Far” and “Neck Deep” have started to do.
There are no surprises to be found here, with the type of song being easily identifiable within the first 10 seconds.
The album opens with the crunching minor chords of “Eyes Open” and confirm State Champs’s strength of creating some of the best bridges in pop-punk, with some awesome lines like, “I’ve got a list of things to tell you and some time to kill / I told you that I’d settle down but I probably never will.”
The next three songs are ones that were released prior to the full album. “Secrets” was a good choice as the lead single for the album with its tight groove and relatable chorus.
“Losing Myself” is musically satisfying, but has some awkward lyrics: “We attract what we’re ready for/it’s something I can’t ignore.”
The most stand out track “All You Are Is History” is pure pop-punk with some great energy and a killer hook that you’ll be singing after just one listen.
This album definitely has cleaner production then anything State Champs has recorded before, with a ton of vocal layering and a couple electronic inspired moments which might upset some long-time fans. This is especially true for the All Time Low inspired track “Breaking Ground” which features vocalist Derek DiScanio’s most captivating performance on the album and a nice guitar solo.
State Champs also took some notes from Mayday Parade on the track “All or Nothing” and the group does this slower style justice.
“Shape Up” is a hard hitting reflection song that contains some of the best lyrics on the album: “So I’ll tell myself that I’m not a victim / but I’ll own up to the mistakes that I made.”
Unfortunately the more upbeat tracks like “Back and Forth” and the closer “Tooth and Nail” not only sound similar to each other, but are too generic to not think of fifteen other groups who have done these songs already. They just don’t hit the mark like the rest of the album does.
The title track “Around the World and Back” is a mixed bag. The acoustic ballad features Ansley Newman of Jule Vera, and although her and Derek sound great together, the lyrics unfortunately don’t pertain to anything or connect in anyway. With the other tracks, it is pretty easy to figure out what State Champs is trying to say, while the lyrics here are just quotes for teenagers to post on social media.
“Around The World and Back” is not the album of the year that fans were hoping for. However, it is an addicting compilation of anthems about self-discovery, traveling and pop-punks favorite topic: breakups.
The band’s musicianship while not improved is still solid and luckily the group has not in any way sacrificed good music for a crossover success like other groups would attempt.
The Flyer gives “Around the World and Back” by State Champs a 7/10.