Waterparks, a three-piece rock band from Texas, consisting of lead vocalist Awsten Knight, guitarist Geoff Wigington and drummer Otto Wood, recently released their sophomore album ‘Entertainment’. Their debut album, ‘Double Dare’ is one of my favorite albums, so naturally I was ecstatic for ‘Entertainment’, and I was not disappointed. This album is great. Like, really great. Each track brings something new to the table, without making the album seem scattered all over the place. ‘Entertainment’ is so artfully composed that with each listen you will find something new to admire, but here is what I have been able to grasp thus far:
The album opens with a unique synth intro and, of course, Awsten’s genius lyricism. The first lyric, “You’re the beach on Christmas Eve. Wrong place, good time, consistently” is a juxtaposition that establishes a reoccurring theme for the album: being lucky (or unlucky) and wishful thinking. Something else that foreshadows the immense consideration and effort that was put into this album, is the smooth transition of the last lyric “You’ve got me feeling like a walking love song” into the first lyric of the next song “At least it’s all about you.” One of the coolest aspects of this album is its cohesiveness, and this segue from one song to the next is an embodiment of that.
This track was the first single to be released from ‘Entertainment’. While it is the most like Waterparks’ first album ‘Double Dare’ it has some defining features that set it apart. The song not only brings back the band’s energetic pop-rock sound, but even goes as far as to reference lyrics from ‘Crave’, the lead single off their EP ‘Cluster’ with “I used to, to crave a getaway now I don’t wanna leave.” This lyric further establishes that although ‘Blonde’ sounds similar to Waterparks’ older work, the band has changed with fame and their new album will reflect that. Because of its similarities to their previous work, ‘Blonde’ had quite the legacy to live up to–and it successfully did so, signifying the start of a new (and improved) era of Waterparks.
One of my personal favorites on the album (maybe even all time), ‘Peach (Lobotomy)’ opens with a catchy whistle and some soft strumming that gives a much different vibe from the first two tracks. More than anything, this song is refreshing. Something that distinguishes Waterparks is the unexpected relatablity of their lyrics. Universal sentiments, such as the struggles of a long distance relationship and obsessing over someone you love, are hard to convey without sounding cliché, but when the artist writes personally, rather than fixating on “what the people want to hear,” these emotions are given a new meaning and this song is a prime example of that. I mean how many times have you heard the word “lobotomy” outside of a medical context? Much less in a song!
We Need to Talk
‘We Need to Talk’ opens with a slightly sad melody, right before delivering the line “Your mama likes me and she doesn’t like anyone.” This song is pretty emotionally draining. Apart from it obviously being a break up song, it talks about how being fooled into thinking you had the best hurts more than losing what you had. Remember how we talked about luck being a big part of this album? Well here is an update on how that is going: “I really thought you were my four-leaf clover, I really thought that I was lucky, fuck me.”
This song was released as the third single just a few days before the album’s release. One of the more poppy songs on the album, ‘Not Warriors’ is a signature Waterparks song with the synth picking up right where the vocals end, seamlessly embedding Awsten’s voice into the melody, giving it one of the catchiest choruses on the album. The lyrics balance each other out, with some gushy lines, such as “I think you saved my life” and lines with a more self-destructive edge, such as “there’s nothing in my system, so I’m feeling what I feel for you.” Another thing to note is the reappearance of the “lucky” motif with the lyric “because we’re lucky people,” acting as a precursor to the next song. Awsten is truly telling a story through this album and this reoccurring theme is a red flag.
‘Lucky People’ is to ‘Entertainment’ as ’21 Questions’ is to ‘Double Dare’. This second single and acoustic staple of the album is a stripped down love song. Awsten wishes his lover a “Happy Birthday, Merry Christmas” in the very same line, conveying a sense of fleetingness. This is reinforced with “leaving you love notes in the kitchen that say it all” which suggests that time is not on their side when it comes to their relationship. Whether he is lamenting a long distance relationship or feeling as though he is constantly rushed because of touring, it is very clear that his commitment to this person is real, directing his message to “the one I call my missus.” Also, here we will see the “lucky” motif at its peak, as you may have guessed from the title. This song is strategically placed in the center of the album, because it acts as a sort of focal point for the record. While the other songs talk about being lucky, or at least thinking you are, this song faces reality, as Awsten admits that “it’s hard to let yourself be fine” but in the end we all just want to be “lucky people.”
Another one of my favorites, ‘Rare’ is probably one of the most upbeat songs on the album. Awsten’s brilliant lyricism is blatant in the very first line as he sings “I save my metaphors for rainy days” which is a metaphor in itself. Clever. His unique voice really shines through on this track. I could probably listen to “I hope its nicer where you are are are” on loop for hours. What makes this song even better is the devotion it conveys. This song is all about caring for the ones you love more than you care for yourself. This song has a sad undercurrent to it, but for some reason it comes off as somewhat motivational. Maybe it’s just me. Either way this song gives off ‘Stupid For You’ vibes and that in itself is praiseworthy.
There is a reason the title of this song is in all caps. A Siri-like voice opens the song with some serious shade: “Fuck these fuckboy bands that can’t think for themselves. Let’s put away our black clothes and start cutting up our voices. That’s what’s cool now, right?” Waterparks has been accused of using “too much technology” in their music and even of not writing their own songs. But Waterparks didn’t just call out their haters. What’s more is that the voice at the beginning complains about Waterparks’ overuse of vocal effects, yet TANTRUM is the most computerized song on the album. Like I said, clever. My favorite line on the album comes from this track, when Awsten sings “Maybe if I kill myself you’ll know I’m sincere.” After essentially being called fake, Awsten wonders how quickly people’s opinions of him would change if he were to die, which ironically makes his accusers the fake ones. Throughout the rest of the song, Awsten denounces the stereotypes of the pop-punk scene and lashes out on everyone who has tried to take advantage of him in any way. At one point, he even calls out names. All the while we have some very aggressive and powerful guitar work. This is by far Waterparks’ most intense track and I really enjoyed that they didn’t shy away from anything in this song. If you’re going to write a diss track, then write an actual diss track…I mean go big or go home, right?
In a lyric from ‘Gloom Boys’ off ‘Double Dare’ Awsten sings “I like happy songs that sound nice, even with their words like dog bites” and this is the case for most Waterparks’ songs: sad lyrics disguised with happy melodies. ‘Crybaby’ is the exception to this. It is a sad song and it sounds like a sad song. After all, “don’t you, don’t you know it’s that gloom boy season?” You can hear the sadness in Awsten’s voice, which is really special, because it is a side of him we don’t usually see, or hear, in this case. This song is probably the hardest to explain and just calling it sad doesn’t do it justice…give it a listen and you’ll be pleasantly surprised (and maybe a little sad) afterwards.
The final track ends the album much like the song that started it, with some classic upbeat pop-rock and a killer chorus. Waterparks bring the album full circle with the lyrics as well, by expanding on the duality they previously brought up in ’11:11′ with “evil comes in pairs” and now in ‘Sleep Alone’ with “lonely enough for the two of us.” Essentially, they are trying to convey that whatever you are going through, whether good or bad, it always helps to have someone by your side. Self-deprecation seems to be another common theme and a prime example of this is the lyric “you’re the blueprint to my stupid sounds.” I understand that it is supposed to be a cute lyric (and it is), but these sounds are most definitely not stupid. ‘Sleep Alone’ closes the album perfectly. Softer vocals comprise the last couple seconds of the track, leaving me excited, not only to listen to the album a gazillion more times, but for what Waterparks has in store for the future.