A slap in the face to pop-punk monotony

If you know anything about the Houston-based three-piece Waterparks, you’ll know it was inevitable anything they released this year would be special. For the uninitiated though; every now and again, in the monotony and regurgitation of a scene like Pop-Punk, you get a band whose music shifts things for the better and are praised for it. Waterparks is that band. In late 2016, they released a debut Double Dare that would have the curse of being infectious to all who came across it, Entertainment however projects a parallel to this. The album is unapologetic as opens with a one-two punch in the form of 11:11. The electronic intro catches you off-guard before jumping into a catchy, upbeat hook that is destined to be an ear-worm. Following on from that, Blonde keeps up the tone with energetic guitars and wonderfully intense drums (courtesy of Geoff Wingington on Guitars and Otto Wood, drums) which is expertly mixed with the band’s almost trademark use of electronics. The song is a great example of how lead singer Awsten Knight shows off his fast-paced, intricate lyric style throughout the album. But, among the high and loud electric attitude that make this record so appealing, there are clearly personal aspects of influence to the writing of Entertainment. In the lyrics and the songwriting style that Knight adopts, passion is the name of the game. As a result, you’ll be hard pressed to find a lyric or line without some intimate detail to it. This feature has been present on their previous releases, but the result is different this time as they refuse to box themselves into one sonic style for the sake for the songs. The band is not shy of going off-kilter from the punk-rock roots they’re known for as Entertainment includes moments of straight-up pop influence. While this has the potential to rub some fans and die-hards the wrong way (a fact I'm sure the band knows), Waterparks manages to not sell themselves short with this sound, which is impressive. They still have their clever lyrics and personal feel to it, capped off with irresistible hooks and melodies that is unmistakable as Waterparks. So, they put down their guitars for songs like Crybaby or We Need to Talk, it doesn’t come across as though the songs having lost anything, as there’s still more than enough substance to make it attractive. There’s hardly a song on the album where the band doesn’t cry out with emotion or passion and a raw honesty. That last point is probably best illustrated in self-proclaimed diss track, TANTRUM. It’s a real no-holds-barred power song with heavy instrumentals and just an all-round more punk feel to it as its angry, fast vibe alongside those obviously directed lyrics is an unmistakeable dig at anyone and everyone who ever dared to cross Mr Knight. If anything, its very nature in being a diss track probably subtracts from its substance as an overall song. In the lead up to Entertainment, Knight suggest that the lead single Blonde is “the most Double Dare song on the album”. That’s not necessarily the case, as songs like Peach (Lobotomy) and Sleep Alone do still embody the energy from that album, and then you have a song like Rare, which just rocks – no other way to say it, really. Entertainment is clearly an album without compromise. Instead of sticking to a pop-punk bracket that many may expect them to, they’ve just created good songs without being restricted by something as arbitrary as genre. As a result, Waterparks has created a triumph, both musically and personally.