Chief State – ‘Tough Love’ Album Review

Chief State, 2020

We defended Pop Punk throughout the 2010s, and, thanks to that, the genre still pumps out new acts to rev up our energy and angst. One such example is Vancouver’s Chief State, who have dropped singles and a short EP since 2016. The time has come to materialize a longer release, through their new album Tough Love set to release this Friday, March 27th!

Tough Love‘s opener is “Try Hard,” broadcasting a beefy guitar tone and punchy kick drum waves. A drum roll into the second verse kicks the pace into high gear, reminiscent of earlier Real Friends riffs. The track closes after a catchy hook as it blends into single “Deciduous.”

This song exemplifies the pop punk staple of accentuated, staccato-d notes for an in-your-face feel. The chorus hearkens: “I am deciduous, dying with the changing of seasons” to convey continuous growth throughout the years. “Reprise” starts strong and, while it doesn’t borrow from earlier songs as the title of the track may suggest, it encompasses Chief State’s decidedly-strong handle on pop-punk.

The next piece, “Something Good For Once,” has a sentimental vibe, quite like recent Story So Far. I really dig the pre- and post-chorus riff, adding something blistering within the particularly slow-metered song. “Biding Time”s chorus lyrics stick out: “You’re biding time through your early twenties, wish you’d find some time for me.” I’m on the other side of my twenties, but that sticks out as an intensely nostalgic period of time, so this is an instant-classic lyric.

A considerably-slower-to-start track, “Choke,” serves as the moment of Tough Love where the listener can hone in on the emotions Chief State has to give. The lyrical content reinforces positivity even through heartbreak. The last song is “Peace of Mind,” and seals the deal on a memorable pop punk experience, even featuring a shout at the end (something I would have liked more of on this album.)

My introduction to Chief State is very positive. Their grip on posi-pop-punk is obvious, and Tough Love is chock full of high-quality moments. The band could stand to experiment some more to create a more definitive sound from the crowd, but is more than suitable to stand with the biggest names in the genre. At a brief 22 minutes, this latest taste of pop punk comes recommended from me; check out Tough Love, out March 27th!

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