Waterparks – FANDOM (Album Review)

Waterparks – FANDOM
Release Date: October 11th, 2019

Waterparks Lineup

Awsten Knight | vocals, guitar
Geoff Wigington | guitar
Otto Wood | drums

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Here we are once again with another release from the colourful trio in Waterparks and if you know me, or if you read my last review from last years release (here), you know I’m a sucker for these guys. The unconventional definition of pop-punk, rock, and electric pop mixed together. Normally, you wouldn’t think that these genres go together, but it seems these three have worked out the secret to making magic which is always exciting when new music is released. Not knowing what is in store as not one song has ever been the same or sounded similar, across three albums that have been put forward. With FANDOM being such a literal name for a record, it makes me interested as to what these songs hold and whether it is as simple as it sounds in being written from frontman Awsten Knight’s perspective about the fandom, or is it merely just a name that was picked for no reason in particular. In my personal opinion, I have a feeling that it’s a little bit of both.

To open this album, there’s a quick little track titled ‘Cherry Red’. I love this and I actually wish that it was a much longer song than it really is because the vocals and musicality are absolutely beautiful, but it feels as if it needs to be expanded on. There’s about half a verse that leads into the chorus and then it’s over. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little disappointed by this. It is such a great build up, but then is a bit of an anti-climax when the song just… finishes and then cuts off. It somewhat leads into ‘Watch What Happens Next’ but doesn’t continue the same rhythm to make it a completely seamless transition which confuses me. Was it meant to seamlessly transition into the next song or not? I wish I had more to say about this song but with it being so short, I don’t really have much content to comment on. However, ‘Watch What Happens Next’ is an absolutely killer song. It’s really diving into the anger and frustrations that follow the hypocrisy of some fans in saying that they want something new, but then complaining when a band change their sound because it’s not the same as previously released music. The tone of the vocals are almost sarcastic in sound at some parts, which elevates the track, giving it an extra layer of depth, as well as the complex but funky guitar riffs that are scattered throughout, it really makes this track is a lot of fun. I instantly fell in love with the way that it had been put together, leaning more on the punk side that the band have, it’s definitely a nice way to open up the record.

‘Dream Boy’ follows up next, which is a more electro-pop vibe with a bit of autotune being mixed in to distort some of the words. This is a familiar technique that’s been used in previous releases but not in the exact same fashion, still making it quite refreshing to hear. It has been posted from Knight himself that this song is coming from a place where he feels that he has been built up to be a perfect person in someone’s mind, and having to feel the pressure of not wanting to let someone down if that expectation isn’t met when you meet face to face. This is definitely catchy and gets stuck in your head easily, and is another hit for the band, and for me too. Next up is ‘Easy To Hate’ and honestly this is easily one of my favourite tracks on this record. It is a playful, melodic, electro-pop track that is somewhat relatable even if it is one that is a little bit of a more anger filled lyrical display. The way the guitar riffs, drum beats and what sounds to me like an electric keyboard — it all works together in such an absolutely genius, bananas and creative form that I really don’t know if any other band would be able to pull this off as seamlessly as this. There are times in writing these reviews where I instantly fall in love with a song and words fail me, and this is one of those times, but this is just one of those moments where no matter how many times I hear it, it just excites me and makes me happy.

There is a track on this record that I want to particularly talk about for a moment, called ‘Group Chat’. I severely dislike this, and it grinds my gears. I personally feel like it doesn’t need to be there in the slightest and I know I may not be the target audience for this particular kind of humour or whatever was being aimed for here, but for a 15 second song, that is placed awkwardly right in the middle and doesn’t tie in ANY of the songs before or after it? Why have it? I’m not normally one to be negative when it comes to reviewing things, but I am known for being brutally honest and telling it how I experienced it and this 15 seconds, while being that short, makes me want to skip it every single time. I just cannot stand it. It comes after a nice fun track that I actually love, ‘Telephone’, and it’s high energy and the record is really on a high note and then this is just slapped right in the middle. It’s misplaced and sounds like it is a demo track, and some people may love this and think it’s the best part of the record which is totally okay, but to me, I just think it doesn’t need to be there.

Moving right on from that, Turbulent is next which was the first single to have been released from the band prior to the album announcement. This is an absolutely fantastic song and I can’t tell you all how many times I’ve actually listened to this. It is a showcase of a few things. Number one being the talent of the trio and what they have to offer to the music industry, which is non-conforming and non-conventional. It’s not one specific sound, it’s so much mixed in together as I mentioned earlier in this piece. The second thing is never, ever piss off a songwriter because this is the most brutal breakup song known to man in the best possible way. The lyrics have always made me laugh while thinking “Shit that’s harsh and I love it”. Now, I could talk about every track, but then where’s the surprise left in it for all of you? It’s clear to me that FANDOM is an album that is telling a story, one that vocalist Awsten Knight needed to tell. It goes through stages of having written about the fandom directly and the pressures of being looked up to and the issues that have been noticed and need to be called out, to being about a very hard breakup and mental health struggles that comes with everything in general, as well as the topics being spoken about. This is also an album that I feel is a bit explorative in nature, with differing sounds and methods being used such as a bit of a rock/metal and rap moment.

When it comes to it, I do like this record, yes, but it also just didn’t immediately connect with me as it did with their previous album. I love the first few songs, then one or two in the middle and the end half. It just feels like… Something is missing for me. Maybe it’s the fact that there are a few songs that are only a minute in length and they just… cut off when they finish. It just doesn’t sound right. I did find that with a few of these tracks — they seem to just END really suddenly and it’s a bit confusing. The end of ‘I Felt Younger When We Met’ is actually the lead into ‘Cherry Red’ but nobody is going to listen to the final track before the first. Everything seems a little all over the shop this time. However the in depth and creative mind of Knight makes me feel that it’s all there for a specific purpose, but what that is, I wasn’t the one to understand it.

I’d like to highlight some of the songs I never got to talk about but are still some of my favourites: ‘I Miss Having Sex But At Least I Don’t Want To Die Anymore’, ‘[Reboot]’, ‘Telephone’, ‘Never Bloom Again’ and ‘Worst’.

While I have said some of the things that I did, there are probably more songs on it that I do like than I don’t which is why it is still getting a higher rating in my books. This one is going to be a cracker to see live, I think. The creativity of the songs can transform into sets or stage visuals.

waterparks - fandom cover

Waterparks – FANDOM tracklisting

1. Cherry Red
2. Watch What Happens Next
3. Dream Boy
4. Easy To Hate
5. High Definition
6. Telephone
7. Group Chat
8. Turbulent
9. Never Bloom Again
10. I Miss Having Sex But At Least I Don’t Want To Die Anymore
11. War Crimes
12. [Reboot]
13. Wors
14. Zone Out
15. I Felt Younger When We Met

Rating: 7/10
FANDOM is out tomorrow via Hopeless Records. Pre-Order here
Review by Heather McNab @heathermcnab

waterparks

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