Album Review: Waterparks – ‘Intellectual Property’ — When The Horn Blows

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‘Intellectual Property,’ the fifth studio album from the once pop-punk, now pop-rock-electronic-punk (and just about every other genre) Waterparks is an incredible journey, full of twists, turns and intense brilliance. on the brink of madness.

It feels strange that Awsten Knight, Otto Wood and Geoff Wington’s debut album ‘Double Dare’ only came out in 2017. Given the band’s prevalence, particularly in the UK, it seems they’ve been part of the pop-consciousness. punk, for better or worse, forever. And yet, despite having been around in that sense for seven years, they’ve managed to release four more incredibly and inherently different albums since then; this one, ‘Intellectual Property’, is no different.

But let’s back up a bit first. 2021 saw the release of Waterparks’ ‘Greatest Hits’, less a compilation of aural champions, more some undeserved confidence in their new release. however, it wasn’t long before they were (arguably) proven right; Strings of five-star reviews and sold-out shows followed the album, and deservedly so, given that the album is going from strength to strength. It also proved a bit less divisive for fans and critics alike, while also seeming to open the door for what was to come.

Enter, Intellectual Property.

‘I don’t want to be toxic,’ cries Awsten; ‘I just want to be honest.’ One of the first lines you hear on the album, ushering in the opening ‘ST*RFUCKER’, this line sets the tone of the album, or, at least, one of the tones. Honesty permeates the album, sure, but don’t worry; this is not just stripped down, vulnerable, introspective. It’s a hell of a lot of fun, too. Serving as the lighter, higher, and hopefully more lauded reflection of its darker predecessor, it’s a departure from what came before. And not just from the other albums: each song itself is a little thing in this 30-minute masterclass in conventional eccentricity. You’ve got the angst: the recent shutdown of You Me at Six’s supporting slots show ‘REAL SUPER DARK’, resentful mutterings and cathartic screams mixing with the industrial beat, or the fantastical ‘RITUAL’, which leans a bit towards the heavy side. , with screams hidden behind the anxiety-inducing drum beat and yet still features some nu-metal rap – and an elephant trumpet? You’ve got the saccharin explosions, as long as you don’t listen to the lyrics, in the almost offensively optimistic ‘2 BEST FRIENDS’ or the meta-comedy short ‘ST*RFUCKER’. ‘END OF THE WATER (FEEL)’ could be lifted entirely from a 1975 record, as much as it pains me to say it, with light electronic flourishes under falsetto vocals and a cinematic glaze of pop sensibilities. ‘FUNERAL GREY’, the first single released in May 2022, and featuring a toy guitar in the main chorus, is two and a half minutes of bright, bubbly, upbeat fun, while ‘FUCK ABOUT IT’, featuring blackbear, seems to take a few cues from the stratospheric success of ‘Monsters’ by fellow pop-punk grads All Time Low, hiding their edges behind earworms and high-energy choruses. There’s a beautiful guitar-driven ballad on ‘Closer,’ too, about heartbreak, hope, and the general wholesomeness of love: being in love, falling in and out of love, and constantly fighting for it, wherever it takes you. Non-stop hyperpop productivity gives way to hedonistic chaos, with a series of phone extracts, before one last line is spoken and fades into static: “This is water parks.”

Forks. It is undeniably Waterparks. Ultimately, you can’t deny the album’s appeal. The album has it all: fun, frenetic, furious. And, while being a ‘jack of all trades, master of none’ can sometimes be a double-edged sword: some of the poppier pop punk patrons may be put off by the heavier numbers, some of the sweeter, more bubblegum pieces may causing some derision from the more angsty end of the fanbase – still a fantastic album with something everyone loves about it. It also serves as a precursor to a series of UK headline shows in the autumn, supported by Stand Atlantic, including a performance at the iconic Camden Roundhouse.

Check out the special guest Stand Atlantic water parks in the UK in October and November:
October 31 London Round House
November 1 Sheffield O2 Academy
November 3 Cardiff Great Hall
Nov 22 Glasgow Barrow Lands
November 23 Birmingham O2 Academy

words for James O’Sullivan

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