State Champion - Fantasy Error Sophomore Lounge
When the distant cricket chirps fade into the beginning of Fantasy Error, I can feel the hot summer night in Kentucky, with a sticky air and warm breeze rustling the trees’ lazy leaves. On their third full-length Sophomore Lounge album, State Champion capture a world in their music: vivid memories of small towns, strange places, missed people, and broken relationships. The album progresses like a narrative, each song a new chapter in a hungover, nostalgic, and ironic tale.
Guitarist and vocalist Ryan Davis’ lyrics paint a picture of events in an almost dystopian world, complete with cruel postmasters, leaky bar ceilings, deforestation, long drives, and pierced hearts. Davis and the rest of State Champion – Sarbina Rush, Salvatore Cassato, and Mikie Poland – know melancholy. They weave a ballad of despair and loss that’s hard to compare albeit subdued. I’m impressed with how they refrain from exaggeration or sentimentality. In the title track – a song of mistakes, loneliness, and yearning emphasized by the strained notes of the fiddle and the desolate harmonies of Davis and Rush – the woe is completely undermined at the end when Davis reveals that the whole song was merely a story they found. This clever irony is threaded throughout Fantasy Error.
As much as they occasionally dig into melancholy (who doesn’t?), State Champion deliver high-powered songs about fuzzy nights of drinking, taking drugs, and waking up in unfamiliar places. A band that doesn’t take themselves too seriously, they have the energy and rascality of a garage band. Highlighting their gritty and reckless attitude, “Don’t Leave Home Without My Love” and “Wake Me Up” are just two of the eight tracks that make up this album and show the members’ visceral, organic, and poetic chemistry.
Giving us songs of dream – or delusion – State Champion shine on Fantasy Error. Mistakes were made, nights were melted away by drugs and alcohol, and relationships were crushed, but a light-heartedness and sense of growth prevails. I’ve listened to this album countless times and never tire from it. Inviting and palpable, Fantasy Error is a balanced record that is always up for a good time.
- Ethan Fortin