I would like to say that I have a pretty open and vast music taste. For me it really is just about the music, or well, art anyway. I don’t like to sit there and critique something based on what someone else thinks is “real music”, especially when all they mean by that is organic sounds. It’s just a silly argument to me, as if sound and music isn’t just pretty little air waves that we all hear differently as living beings. Not to mention it’s just self expression, it’s just creation like everything else in the world is. I think you must live a pretty boring life to only be open to one thing – I could never imagine only watching trashy rom-coms just because something else is entirely different. That’s the point, right?
Now, I promise you this has a reason, I’m not just ranting.
Waterparks are a three piece band from Houston, Texas, and when they were younger very much so inspired by “pop punk” music. As most of us who found bands at a young age can be. When signed to their first label, the whole “pop punk” box was something Waterparks fell into because of this. The issue? They’re so much more than that.
As the years have progressed there has been plenty of talk from Awsten Knight – vocalist, intense creative mind – about the genre in correspondent to the band:
Q: “What do you take from pop punk music and work into your own art?”
A: “The thing is we have all the ingredients for a pop punk band, but it’s the last thing I want to be.”
A: “Because I just – I feel like pop punk hit where it was gonna hit…and at the same time it’s such a limiting genre because you can only do so many things with it. And that’s – that’s another reason I’m so into like -“
Q: “Genre belnding?”
A: “Yeah, and it’s like – and it’s no disrespect like I’m not just trying to shit on like pop punk stuff, but it’s like I just like so much more, you know what I mean? Like besides and also another thing that sucks is when you’re put in that category it’s so hard to get out of it. And when people see you as a “pop punk band” it’s just associated with like being a teenager at warped tour or whatever and it’s like that’s just not what I want.”– Awsten Knight, Zach Sang – The Zach Sang Show, 2019
I only bring this up because often the most negative criticism of Waterparks is the fact that they’re “not pop punk.” It’s not hard to find macho midwest dudes who dislike them just for not making pop punk music, all because the band themself would be around/tour with bands that were. Which I find hilarious.
“Fans of rock think there’s so much better than fans of other things because they’re like ‘oh but this is like meaningful’… most of the time it’s just like vague negative bull, like they’re not even saying anything it’s just like – just like vague struggle fluff for the sake of like being relatable…”– Awsten Knight, 2019
Again, I only bring this up because you can’t justify your opinion on something that they’re not and I think it’s incredibly important to only go into their music with this information. You can’t go into a Waterparks album expecting pop punk – in fact you can’t go into a Waterparks album expecting anything.
Waterparks have four albums – minus their Fandom: Live In The UK – three EPs and, depending on who you ask if they consider it, the “unreleased non-official G album” demos on soundcloud that Awsten had to release because of a tweet. For the purposes of this blog post I’ll just be focusing on albums, but who knows in the future I might follow up with my opinions on everything else.
Fourth Place – Entertaiment
I feel like I might get some hate for this one, which is fine but I have my reasons. I have been listening to Waterparks since the EP days and have watched them steadily grow since and with the release of Entertainment brought in a number of new fans. This isn’t bad, I think this was an era where things started to happen within fans and it was honestly a moment. That being said, this is my least favourite album out of anything they’ve produced. It just doesn’t feel right for me, not at all. That doesn’t mean I hate it, for I enjoy a lot of the songs from Entertainment. But I think that’s just the point, it feels like some songs, not an album, not a piece of art. Maybe there’s something missing for me, maybe I just never connected to it the way I did with every other album? It just feels adolescent to me as well, I don’t know how to explain it.
It’s not a bad album, not really. I know a lot of people who adore it, the vibes of it. That’s just not me though.
Third Place – Greatest Hit’s
Here is where things get difficult. I love – and by god I mean love – this album. Waterparks have some of my favourite artistry out there in the music game right now for me. The contextual elements. The max amount of detail – like how Track 1: Greatest Hits has audio from the streets when their Fandom album was on a billboard in times square. Insane, I love it so much. Greatest Hits is amazing, it’s a piece of art.That being said, as much as this gets played nearly daily for me, I adore the other two albums even more. I don’t even know how it’s possible, but I do.
Second Place – Double Dare
For the longest time Double Dare was my favourite album – one of my favourite’s of all time actually. And it still very much is, but I think most of my love for it comes from my emotional connection to it and what it ‘means’ to me rather than think it’s their best collective piece of music. Of course it keep’s second place though. This album came out exactly when I needed it in 2016, it brought so much joy into my life and it still does every time I listen to it. It’s nostalgic in the best way, while still completely holding up in being good music. Nothing enacts the same feeling as when I hear the opening to Track 8: Powerless.
First Place – Fandom
For a while I sat here not knowing if Fandom or Double Dare would get first place and it took me a long time to decide. If that doesn’t prove just how top notch both of them are then well, I don’t know I just felt like saying that. Fandom was always second to me, for so long, but after thinking it out I actually listen to Fandom more. It only came out in 2019, yet I still listen to it – the songs separately and as a whole – so often that there is always one song in my top tracks. Like Greatest Hits, Fandom has so much contextual depth and artistry. It was the first record away from their first label and you could notice the shift in how they produced their art. It was a moment of growth, change and it was so authentically themself. I love it, I’m attached to it, and I really recommend you listen to it at least once in your life.
“I have a theory that we could do almost any – where we can do close to anything sonically, not anything but like most things genre wise and as long as what I’m saying is very authentic and very, very real and you can tell I feel like we’ll be aright cuz like Turbulent sounds nothing like any of the older stuff but it’s like what I wanted to make…I like dark music, I like pop music, I fast, I was like that’s all of those things…I just, I like so many things and I just think it’s stupid that – alright I think it’d be dumb to only show like one dimension of yourself especially like today…”– Awsten Knight, 2019