Over the last several years, there has been a revival of the styles of Pop-Punk and Emo-Rock music that were popular in the early to mid-2000s. Bands like Remo Drive, Pup, and Neck Deep have been helping usher in a new wave of Alternative Rock and Punk music reminiscent of the Punk music that came out right after the turn of the century. It is as if people that were kids and young adults at that time are trying to bring back the sounds that they loved so much in their youth. In addition to the aforementioned artists, one band that has been a great job at modernizing retro Pop-Punk music is Waterparks. After forming in 2011 and releasing a few EPs, Waterparks came out with their debut album Double Dare in 2016. Between 2018-2021, Waterparks were prolific with their output, releasing three albums, called Entertainment, FANDOM, and Greatest Hits, in three years, once again all to massive acclaim from fans and critics alike. Waterparks has always been credited with morphing multiple styles of Alternative Rock and Pop-Punk music and making them sound current and hip. They have done an excellent job taking the Alternative music sounds that they love and making them palatable for music fans in the late 2010s and early 2020s. Waterparks have now returned with their fifth studio album INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY. After how well-received their music has been to this point, this album has high expectations to live up to. With that being said, here is my opinion on Waterparks’ INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY. Please let me know in the comments below how you feel about this record, and also comment on what your favorite songs from it are.

‘STARF*CKER’ gets INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY started on a fast and fun note. The easiest way to describe this song is that it sounds like a modern version of the music from Hellogoodbye or Postal Service. These were both very unique artists in their own right, and it is cool to find something that brings me back to those two. This song has an Alternative Electro-Pop sound that is driven by a bright and colorful melody and a quick beat. The way the song is mixed almost gives it a HyperPop feeling. I really enjoy all of the sound effects and all of the components that make up this instrumental(such as multiple guitars, synths, and an electric drum kit), as they all give the song so much texture. Vocally, lead singer Awsten Knight sings with a light and easy tone that matches the energy of the instrumental perfectly. The juxtaposition between the bright sound of this song and the lyrics is great. On ‘STARF*CKER,’ Awsten Knight seems to be singing to a  toxic ex that they are trying to push away. The sweet sound we got on ‘STARF*CKER’ does not carry into the next song. ‘REAL SUPER DARK’ has a Hard-Rock and Industrial sound that is abrasive in the best way. There is something about the melody(especially in the calmer moments of the track) that give me an early 2000s Emo music feel. In particular, these calmer moments in the song make me think about early Panic! At The Disco music. This song is driven by an intense guitar riff and a drum beat that is heavily distorted and added onto by various sound effects and synths. The sound effects give the song a futuristic element that adds so much to the depth of the track. The best thing about ‘REAL SUPER DARK’ to me is the vocal performance. Awsten Knight brings in a shouting element to the way he sings which adds to the harshness of the song. On ‘REAL SUPER DARK,’ Awsten Knight goes back and forth between loving and hating the fame that he has garnered as Waterparks has become more famous. ‘FUNERAL GREY’ is a song that I could easily see becoming a hit. This song has all of the right energy to be a quintessential Pop-Punk summer banger. It feels directly inspired by artists like Blink 182 or Good Charlotte; honestly, it gives me such a nostalgic feeling when I hear it. ‘FUNERAL GREY’ is driven by an upbeat guitar riff and a drum beat that have a joyous and radiant feeling to them. ‘FUNERAL GREY’ is the least sophisticated-sounding song on the record to this point. It does not have the kind of distortion on the mix or the number of synths added to the melody as the first two songs on the record. Sometimes simple as great, though, as this song indicates. The melody and beat are so pleasant to listen to that they do not need anything added. I love the raspiness in the vocals on this track, as they add a fiery layer to the song that it benefits from. On ‘FUNERAL GREY,’ Awsten Knight is singing about a one-night stand that he can not stop thinking about. 

‘BRAINWASHED’ has a sound that is pretty similar to the preceding song. It seems like ‘FUNERAL GREY’ and ‘BRAINWASHED’ go together, as they have many similarities sonically and lyrically. This song has a lot more of a Pop feel than a punk feeling, though. It is similar to the late 2000s Pop-Rock bands that were inspired by the more Punk stuff that was coming out at the same time. Specifically, this song makes me think of bands like Walk The Moon or All American Rejects. The song is driven by a light and sweet melody that is very similar to the one on ‘FUNERAL GREY’ and is provided by various guitars and synths which is put over a pretty calm drum beat. The vocals on this song do not necessarily stick out, but they do fit the sound of the song nicely. On ‘BRAINWASHED,’ Awsten seems to be singing about the person from ‘FUNERAL GREY’ and how they are still infatuated with this person a week or so after meeting them. ‘2 BEST FRIENDS’ is the most underwhelming song on the record to this point. The melody for this one actually goes with the two songs that precede it almost perfectly. If ‘BRAINWASHED’ was a more cute and poppy version of ‘FUNERAL GREY,’ then ‘2 BEST FRIENDS’ is like a more poppy version of ‘BRAINWASHED.’ The Pop Rock thing that ‘BRAINWASHED’ does work well, but this track is a little too bland. The way the song is mixed just does not do a lot for me. The beat kind of bores me and the melody does not have anything about it that draws me in very much either. The vocals on this song are good, but they do not carry the song or add enough to get over the dullness of the instrumental. On ‘2 BEST FRIENDS,’ Awsten is singing about going out with friends to try to get over a failed relationship. ‘END OF THE WATER(FEEL)’ infused energy back into the album after the more tranquil nature the last two songs had. The instrumental for this song is very complex compared to the last few songs. The track is driven by a distorted guitar riff that is added onto by lots of synths and sound effects that make the melody pop so much more. The way the melody is mixed gives the song so much texture, as at points the guitar riff will fade in and out to fluctuate the intensity of the track. This track has a fast Dance-Pop drum beat that gives the song so much energy. The vocals on this song are some of my favorites on the record to this point. Awsten Knight flexes his range on this track; the way he sings on this song gives it so much emotion. I can imagine myself as a teenager locking myself in my room and dancing around as I blast this song because it is just so fun. On ‘END OF THE WATER(FEEL), Awsten is singing about a toxic relationship with someone he knows he should not talk to but just can not get enough of. ‘SELF-SABOTAGE’ feels like a fusion of the Alt-Pop we heard at the beginning of the album and the Pop-Punk we got a little later. There are sections of the song that are driven by synths and have a beaming Pop sound, and there are sections of the song that have a lively Punk Rock sound. The way this song is mixed gives it so much vitality. I enjoy the mix of this song a lot because it is so quirky. Even though the song is driven by retro Alternative music sounds, the way the song is mixed makes it seem so present-day and fresh. The crazy mix the song has extends to the vocals as well. There is a lot of distortion on the vocals on this track, which almost give it a futuristic feeling. On ‘SELF-SABOTAGE,’ Awsten Knight is singing about how he knows he is a bad significant other because it is so hard for him to open up and be there for people when they need him.

‘RITUAL’ is a song that shows off an additional side to Waterparks’ artistry. This is the toughest and most fierce song on the record to this point. This instrumental is all over the place in the best way. There are sections of the song that feel like demented HyperPop, there are sections that sound like 2010s Post-Hardcore Metal, and there are sections that sound like futuristic Rap-Metal. Because this song is constantly switching up on itself, it keeps the listener on their toes because they do not know what is coming next. The vocals on this song are just as crazy as the instrumental. On this track, Asten raps, screams, and sings. He shows off his incredible range; when listening to this song, it seems like there is nothing he can’t do as a vocalist. On ‘RITUAL,’ Awsten is singing about how some of the issues he had with religion growing up have led him to be suicidal. Waterparks majorly slows down the mood of the record with ‘FUCK ABOUT IT,’ which features blackbear. After how crazy the last track was, it is probably a good thing for most listeners that they went with a tame one to follow it, as this song will reel people back in who are not as into Industrial or Hardcore music. ‘FUCK ABOUT IT’ is a song that is similar to the song ‘BRAINWASHED.’ It is another track that has a late 2000s Pop-Rock sound that is similar to bands like All American Rejects. There is not a ton about this instrumental that sticks out. The melody and beat are pleasant, but apart from a few brief electric guitar solos, there is not a lot about it that is super engaging. Awsten Knight’s vocals are solid on this track, but my favorite thing about it is the blackbear feature. His voice and flow contrast Awsten’s greatly, and they add an element of Hip Hop to the song that modernizes it. On ‘FUCK ABOUT IT,’ Awsten and blackbear are singing about a bad relationship where the only time they are not fighting with their significant other is when they are getting intimate. ‘CLOSER’ is a song that leans into a couple of the biggest trends that have been popular in Alternative music over the last couple of years. The first half of the song has a sound that is like the new music that has been influenced by 80s New Wave artists, and the second half has a sound that brings it back to the 2000s-style Pop-Punk music that has been big lately. The song is not divided into two parts, though. The transition from the New Wave sound to the Pop-Punk sound is so seamless. The melody of this song is so sweet and easy to listen to; it almost has a calming effect to it. Awsten sings with a softer tone on this track than he does on a lot of the other songs, and it works well for this instrumental. On ‘CLOSER,’ Awsten is trying to show his significant other that he is maturing and capable of a functional adult relationship. Waterparks finishes this record with the song ‘A NIGHT OUT ON EARTH.’ It is evident from this song that they wanted to end the album with an energetic bang. This song fuses Industrial HyperPop music with Hard Punk music. It makes for a track that is extremely unique and pops in the best way. I love how the melody goes back and forth between being driven by warped synths and rough guitar riffs. The way that the instrumental is constantly switching on itself gives the song so much texture. Awsten’s vocals on this song are just as lively as the instrumental. He sings with so much emphasis on this song and builds on its already extremely potent power. This song is like an ultra-modern version of Alternative Rock that I enjoy a lot (and would love to hear more of in the future). On ‘A NIGHT OUT ON EARTH,’ Awsten is singing about how he is not going to let his debilitating mental health dictate or ruin his life. ‘A NIGHT OUT ON EARTH’ is a great way to close out this record sonically and lyrically, and it brings the record to the dramatic climax it needs.

As I stated in the introduction, since all of their previous records have been acclaimed, Waterparks had a lot to live up to with INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY. In my opinion, they lived up to those expectations with this record. Everything about this album is diverse, interesting, and cool. Lyrically, this record is great. I love how Awsten Knight invites the listener into his mind, displaying his insecurities in a way that makes him seem so relatable to listeners. Sonically, this album takes many kinds of Alternative music that have been popular over the last 20 years and fuses them in ways that are not expected. Apart from one or two songs, every track is engaging and brings elements of nostalgia while also feeling new and current. Overall, this is an album that has something for fans of so many different kinds of Alternative music, and it shows how diverse Waterparks can be without sacrificing quality. With INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY, Waterparks once again proves why they are one of the most interesting and exciting artists making Alternative Rock right now.




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