For State Champs, following up The Finer Things with Around the World and Back was fascinating to me. Think about it: that album came out three years ago. And State Champs have practically toured with every other mixture of genres in their respective scene since. I went to shows and seen them on accident. On Living Proof, the band just got a bit louder.
The lead singles were, for the most part, vaguely dissatisfying. “Dead and Gone” sounds an All Time Low Future Hearts B-Side. “Mine Is Gold” begins with a familiar intro, comparing to blink-182’s “Bored to Death.” Even the chorus is chord-for-chord stripped from “No Future.” Then, most recently, “Our Time To Go” compares to 5 Seconds of Summer’s “Amnesia” and “End Up Here,” even showing off a few of the same lyric outtakes (“Never thought I’d end up here”; “Nothing hurts more than saying I’m fine”). “Crystal Ball” was the only impressive single, almost reminiscing the days of The Finer Things.
The most interesting note in Living Proof are the collaborations at hand. Unlike the preceding record, which Kyle Black solely produced, Living Proof features production by everyone’s favorite (lol) John Feldmann, former All Time Low cowriter Mike Green, and Kyle Black. Blink-182’s Mark Hoppus and All Time Low’s Alex Gaskarth even offered a few writing and singing collaborations.
Despite the singles being unimpressive, State Champs have nearly outdone themselves on a bit of Living Proof. Tracks like “Frozen” or “Lightning” are some of the band’s best material; “Save Haven” has a chorus hook that I cannot get enough of; “Cut Through the Static” shows maturity and experimentation. Much of these songs, however, aren’t anything overly impressive or satisfying, and I find them hard to get into.
Every Feldmann collaboration is met with a Mark Hoppus guest feature, as expected. At this point, the songs he sings on are underwhelming. “Time Machine” (ft Mark Hoppus) reminds us of “Tidal Waves” by All Time Low. But instead, we’re left with a lackluster performance from Derek DiScanio, Mark Hoppus, and poor production from John Feldmann.
“Sidelines” leaves off the album in an ‘okay-ish’ mood. I’m not overly impressed. Living Proof is fine yet it contains some of State Champs’ best material. It’s an outtake from the band’s highest performance, although it reads as a personal diary. Most of this album is incredible. It’s sloppy and uninviting as a whole and I can’t see myself returning for very long.