Recommended Tracks: “BRAINWASHED”, “2 BEST FRIENDS”, “CLOSER”
Artists You May Like: Fall Out Boy, The Maine, The Wrecks
There is always so much to unpack with Waterparks. For the better part of ten years, the genre-defying trio have pushed musical boundaries, challenged music video expectations, and created a lane for themselves in a time when standing out can be easier said than done. In doing so, they have had their lows and highs, receiving backlash from haters on Twitter or scoring endless sold out shows on multiple headline tours. Through it all, the songs that Waterparks release always keep it real, telling fans exactly what is going on and capturing how it really feels to be out there for the world to judge. On their fifth studio album, INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY, the band dive in further than they ever have, giving us their best project to date.
In terms of relationships, there are songs that focus on moving on from them or taking a break from them. On opening track “ST*RFUCKER,” frontman Awsten Knight gets out some final thoughts about a previous relationship. We hear lines like, “Maybe I’m a soul sucker, but you’re just a starfucker” and “I don’t wanna be toxic, I just wanna be honest,” which are a little intense against the colorful, Rainbow Road-from-Mario Kart-sounding music. That harmless sound comes through again on “2 BEST FRIENDS,” where he tries to forget about some relationship problems. It is a suspiciously happy track, the commercial-like jingle of the chorus taking us to a fun place as we hear, “I went out with my two best friends / Tried anything not to think of you.” It is back to reality, however, on the aggressive alt-rock banger “FUCK ABOUT IT.” On this track, Awsten teams up with the ever-in-demand blackbear to tackle the drama of dismissing issues instead of working through them, which only adds to the drama. In the end, they sing, “We can fuck about it later, if you want / Because we never fix the problems that we’ve got, baby / You don’t seem to like it when we talk / I guess I’ll see you later,” leaving it for another day.
As Awsten grapples with these complicated relationships, there is a side to him that is also trying to understand what he wants. He is aware that he is falling for someone on “FUNERAL GREY” and “BRAINWASHED,” and this makes him uncomfortable. He invites us into his manic state on these tracks, giving us lines like, “I’m trippin’ off the deep end” and “I don’t wanna leave, it’s freakin’ me out” before asking questions such as, “Why am I actin’ like that?” and “Why do I think you’re so cool?” As much as he wants love, he can’t resist thinking he’s not ready for it or not worthy of it, as he tells us on “SELF-SABOTAGE.” He just wants to ruin things before the other person can, singing, “I’m on my way to you, but I self-sabotage / So I might drive my car and crash into your garage.” Together, these tracks share a vibrant, pop punk sound, so listeners can turn to “CLOSER” for a more earnest rendition of these topics. Over a moody indie rock production, Awsten sings, “I love you or I want to, but I don’t know how,” showing how overwhelming it all can be.
Of course, a Waterparks album is not complete without a nice, healthy vent about everyone and everything. On “REAL SUPER DARK,” Awsten lets out his frustrations while giving special, random attention to the one and only Waterparks drummer, Otto Danielle Wood. The track starts out with a confrontation between Awsten and someone who wants to speak to his manager, to which Awsten yell-sings, “Oh, you mean Benji? He’s fucking busy / ‘Cause I just drove through AP on my brand new jet ski…” While he interjects some humor and lightness into the track, he also gets real with lines like, “Therapy’s not working, I don’t understand” and “It gets real super dark around the edge of my heart.” It all comes down to the final track, though, where the stakes are raised quite high. He gets into therapy, dealing with people who are using him, religion, writing songs – basically a small snapshot of what it’s like to be him. The song would have been enough on its own, but the outro really seals it all up. We hear an old promo clip of Awsten and Otto on the phone with a radio station, speaking about “I’m a Natural Blue” from one of their earlier projects, Black Light. It hits hard and is significant in so many ways, but for now, I will just claim that it is a solid way to close the album.
For every album cycle, Awsten says that the new album is the best Waterparks album. He is always right. After listening to INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY, I sat there. I processed. I wiped away a few tears, smiled. It has that “beautiful chaos” of previous albums, where there is a lot going on but it all makes sense and sounds super catchy and interesting. Still, it takes things a step further, bringing to the surface ideas and thoughts that have been buried or kept secret. It is all out there now, and it has never sounded so good.
You can listen to INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY on platforms like Spotify, Apple Music, and SoundCloud.
Snag the last few tickets for Waterparks’ upcoming tour here.