Admittedly, I’ve never been the most ambitious person. I’m pretty happy in my current existence but every once in a while I can’t help but wonder what I could have been had I my early twenties living up to my full potential. It’s rare that my mind drifts to these thoughts but it becomes hard not to travel down this path when I stumble across an individual that has talent beyond their years. Enter 19 year old Nick Stoup, the mastermind behind Toledo’s newest pop-rock outfit Equipment. I couldn’t help but feel a bit envious after listening to Equipment’s debut, Chump.
Stoup channels Elliott Smith on the EP’s opening track, “One or Both.” The track has a somber introduction before launching into a super catchy hook as Stoup laments a relationship that shouldn’t have been. What I really enjoy is the mix between some of my favorite ‘classic’ albums (Green Day’s Dookie and Weezer’s Pinkerton) with some newer DIY bands like Modern Baseball and Car Seat Headrest. The mix of hooky pop punk with the heart on your sleeve lyrical content of some of the best emo bands out there is hard to resist. “Dug myself into this hole / Made a promise I can’t keep / If I’m stuck it’s cause of me,” feeling I can heavily relate to but feel like I still have trouble putting into words even now.
The transition between “One or Both” and “Commuter” is so seamless that I missed it the first few listens through. “Commuter” features some fuzzy powerchords that are impossible to resist. Again, the upbeat sound of “Commuter” masks the feeling of lost friendships as everyone moves to a new part of their life. Possibly my favorite thing about Chump is the ability to hear something new both sonically and lyrically with each listen. I always spend my first few listens exploring the musical composition of a song before really hearing the lyrics when I first give a new album a spin. Even after a dozen or so listens of Chump I’m still hearing new things which keeps the EP feeling brand new to my ears.
“Phone Calls at 3 AM” is currently my favorite track off the album. If I could pick a song that truly encapsulates how I thought and felt in my late teens / early twenties, this would be it. While Chump‘s overall sound is relatively upbeat and even dance-worthy at times, “Phone Calls at 3 AM” truly captures the darkness of the song’s subject matter, growing darker and darker as the song progresses and Stoup continues to put himself down. The growl of the guitars grow as Stoup’s voice rises to just short of a yell towards the end of the track as he sings “Don’t worry though, I’ll try again / When I find a heap of confidence / At the bottom of a cup of vodka / Pleading on the phone.”
Chump manages to both feel like an EP I’ve listened to thousands of times while feeling fresh and new. Perhaps it’s Stoup’s ability to channel the likes of Green Day and Weezer or maybe it’s just how much I can relate to the lyrics. Whatever it is, I can’t help but fall more and more in love with this sweet little EP the more I play it as I continue to be in awe of the heaps of talent Nick Stoup displays on his first release.