The gruesome twosome of guitarist Maxwell Moore and drummer Raney Aboud shows what it’s learned on the heels of August’s awesome Rad Vibes, yet knows to keep the things that made Cosmostanza so intriguing in the first place: sugary hooks, youthful energy. Champs is grown-up a bit, yes, more grounded and — dare I say — mature, but still very much a fun-loving record at heart.
“Avant-Garde” starts off with a Japandroids’ “The House That Heaven Built” boom. It’s followed by the NES-glorifying “Never Cool,” recalling fellow OKC punks The Copperheads.
A symbol-titled track — let’s call it “Bug” — combusts into a pseudo-bluesy breakdown that would do Mark Sultan proud, and the pair gets even more amped up with “Electric Forest,” playing out like Metallica’s “Ride the Lightning” as translated by Jeff the Brotherhood. It’s loud and furious, but warm and fuzzy at the same time.
In closing, the duo sneezes out the snotty “Teenage Waste,” boasting some unexpectedly formidable guitar licks and a massive melody.
Champs finds good ideas being met by better production, musicianship and, most important, songwriting. Who knows what the two high school seniors might accomplish once graduation is in the rearview?