Album Review: Chief State - Tough Love
Mutant League Records
With their 2017 debut EP I Just Need Some Time, and later that year with the release of B-sides from the same EP, Chief State introduced us to their refreshing brand of melodic pop-punk. More importantly, though, they caught the attention of Mutant League Records and release Nothing More Than This through them in 2018. However, with their brand-new release Tough Love, Chief State take everything we already thought we knew about them, elevate it to a whole other level, and deliver a powerful knockout punch in just 20 minutes! Led by the singles “Deciduous” and “Reprise” we got our first tastes of things to come, but those are just the tip of the iceberg. The 40-second intro of opening track “Try Hard” allows the group to initially suck you in with their incredibly catchy guitars as they showcase their pop-punk side before blasting you with Fraser Simpson’s outstanding vocals and their melodic punk vibe; a perfect combination of both singles that we also hear later on the closing track “Peace Of Mind.” As you press forward you run smack into “Biding Time,” a song that allows Simpson’s vocals to come forward first over a simple intro and truly show what he can do vocally without the fury of the instrumentation behind him tugging us along as he sings of an unrequited love with lines such as “wish you’d find some time for me.” Whereas the rest of the album packs a power punch of melodic pop-punk, “Choke” interestingly takes a step outside their comfort zone. The slower paced song leans heavy on modern production techniques to lace in a pop like touch for the first minute and half before kicking into what they do best. With lyrics hitting on looking inward to understand your own emotions, toxic relationship struggles, and being the shoulder for someone, balancing against catchy rhythms, guitars that know all the perfect moments to shred and when to pull back, and lead vocals that pack the emotional gut punch the lyrics call for, Chief State has given us the perfect mix of modern era punk rock with all the right touches of inspiration from the 90s era bands that littered the rosters of Epitaph and Fat Wreck Chords.