October 8, 2019 Waterparks – FANDOM (Album Review)
Undeniably infectious, Waterparks bring joy to their FANDOM with their latest, which arrives this Friday, October 11, 2019, via Hopeless Records.
Breakthrough artist and Good Charlotte protégés Waterparks have billed themselves as God’s favorite boy band, and why not? The Texas-based band are known for having a boisterous personality, delicious Pop sensibilities with a Pop-Punk upbringing, and an exceedingly loyal fanbase. Media darlings, the trio have enjoyed a successful career with 2016’s Double Dare and 2018’s Entertainment, as well as several early EPs. Unabashed in their love for the likes of My Chemical Romance and Fall Out Boy, Waterparks have shared stages with ONE OK ROCK, All Time Low, Sleeping With Sirens, SWMRS, and many, many more. They are, of course, Warped Tour alumni.
Now, the expectations are high for Waterparks’—Vocalist/Guitarist Awsten Knight, Guitarist/Vocalist Geoff Wigington, and Drummer/Vocalist Otto Wood—third full-length, FANDOM. Produced by Zakk Cervini (Poppy, Yungblud), the 15-song album focuses on packing as much oomph and diversity into its manically joyous tornado of sound.
FANDOM opens to the epic synths of the “Cherry Red,” a colorful ode to the one that you would die for—be it a girl, a boy, your fandom, or all of the above. It’s a short little aperitif that leads into the funky guitars of “Watch What Happens Next.” The threesome’s Pop sensibilities are on full display here as the truly catchy bop races through a million influences to craft something undeniably Waterparks. An obvious choice for an upcoming single, it’s followed by the single/video, “Dream Boy.” With a wonderfully fun, ‘80s mall feel, the third track earns itself a name with its nostalgic bubblegum and does so unabashedly with a flirty attitude.
“Easy To Hate” sets a bouncy pace for its universal theme, declaring that it’s “too easy to hate you” as it dances across your hard to love heart in stilettos. Meanwhile, the candid confessions of “High Definition” are big on longing—to write a love song, to be needed—but acknowledge that being alone is safer. Continuing, they break out the spastic piano for the build into “Telephone,” a frenetically upbeat pillow party in the name of meeting someone who excites you to hyper levels. It ends with a sound bite of Jon Lovitz from 1998’s The Wedding Singer, which somehow seems appropriate.
Showing that they can be cheeky, “Group Chat” is a 15-second drum interlude with the band introducing themselves and declaring that they’re all friends. Contradictorily, this little bit of whimsy paves the way for the darker, more, dare it be said, Emo, of “Turbulent,” which appropriately name checks Pete Wentz and Patrick Stump of Fall Out Boy before Knight begins dropping f-bombs and delves into the topic of feelings and being screwed over.
When you can see the one you love in every girl in Los Angeles, you have the makings of the balladesque “Never Bloom Again.” Anchored by acoustic guitar, it allows the band to share an intimate moment with their fans before it builds into a sweet jam. Next, the threesome go for a summery vibe in “I Miss Having Sex But At Least I Don’t Wanna Die Anymore,” a stand-out with witty lyrics that mock the troubles of being a musician and the endless list of demands inherent in the job. (Hey Awsten, when are you going to sing for me?)
Dipping the bass down low and going for an atmospheric, more electronic vibe, “War Crimes” gets gritty as the boys rock out, twisting and turning between a Sum 41 influence and their deliciously catchy antics. (Oh, and we caught that AFI nod, thank you very much!) Continuing to flip everything onto its head, “[Reboot]” starts out sounding like the latest Top 40 Hip Hop offering before it obliterates the formula. Presenting the Mr. Hyde to the Dr. Jekyll of “Dream Boy,” the track seeks to destroy love as the band glory in the darker side of relationships and being a chew toy.
Thunder rolls as acoustic anchors Knight leaning into the microphone for some fast-paced confessions that intentionally fail to sugarcoat his feelings. It sounds like a dream as the trio spit harsh attitude in good spirit, something that would make their forebears in Fall Out Boy proud. Then, at just over a minute, “Zoned Out” is little more than a whisper soft, intimate shaping of “Dream Boy” into an interlude that flows fluidly into Fandom’s grand finale. Another relationship song, “I Felt Younger When We Met” leans more heavily on the group’s Top 40 influences. Admittedly, it flounders a bit in its verses but goes big with bold, sing-along choruses that provide an ultimate redemption. Pulling a crafty move, the last song slowly fades into an outro that cycles fluidly back into the first track, making it impossible not to listen to the entire thing once more. This keen attention to quirky details is what makes Waterparks so fantastic at what they do.
The electric youth in Waterparks understand what their fans want, and while they are certainly not reinventing the face of modern music, the trio are having a blast mixing all of their influences into an infectious romp that hits their target audience in the feels. Part undeniably scrumptious Pop, part Punk attitude, and always with the Emo ability to spit their feelings into any available microphone, these Texans are the gateway drug into the Warped Tour world for many an angsty yet upbeat teen.
If you are giddy for FANDOM, the bulk of the tracks fall between “Dream Boy” and “[Reboot]”, and you are apt to love every second of the album. For this, Cryptic Rock give FANDOM 4.5 of 5 stars.