Bursting at the seams with different sounds, Waterparks’ latest studio album Intellectual Property is everything you want and more in an alternative rock record.
In 2012, Waterparks founder Awsten Knight was joined by Geoff Wigington and Otto Wood following the departure of the original drummer, guitarist, and keyboardist. Since then the trio has rolled out five studio albums all of which have been positively received by fans across the globe. Now, they embark on a nearly sold-out world tour with a stop in Toronto later this month. Though their music has never gone mainstream, Waterparks’ ever-evolving sound and startling authenticity continue to reach new and old fans alike.
Genre has never been a barrier for the American trio and Intellectual Property only emphasizes this further. Though they play primarily pop tinged alternative and rock tunes, they have never felt the need to shy away from experimenting with sounds and styles of other genres. “REAL SUPER DARK” and “RITUAL” are intense, loud, and showcase the band’s ability to infuse staples of heavy metal with the aforementioned genres. Other tracks like “FUNERAL GREY” and “BRAINWASHED” are punky upbeat tunes reminiscent of summer hits that beg to be sung along to. “CLOSER” is a standout on the album, being the only song to slow down and show a hint of gentleness, both sonically—with the addition of an acoustic guitar—and lyrically, “‘Cause I love you or I want to / But I don’t know how.”
On top of blending genres, Waterparks tackle a variety of heavy themes throughout the eleven tracks, including self-image and mental health and religious guilt. A close listen to the lyrics reveals the difficult subject matter Knight described when discussing the album release. There is a throwaway verse in the opening track, “Jesus Christ won’t text me back,” that can be overlooked as a silly addition until the closing track clarifies its significance: “Am I gonna go to Hell in my sleep or will God forgive me?”
Songs about relationships are not uncommon in any genre, but Waterparks’ are not so much love songs as they are songs about trying to get out of your own way. Intellectual Property ranges from tracks about the obsessiveness that comes with falling in love, the uncertainty and eventual self-sabotage of a relationship, and the hope for something more. This, often paired with consistent verses regarding Knight’s mental health, “And now when I get depressed and make songs / I turn pain into rent and sing along,” expresses the ongoing turmoil in Knight’s mind.
Themes of desperation are far from subtle in a Waterparks’ track and this record is no different. If “CLOSER” is the most emotionally vulnerable of the eleven tracks, then “END OF THE WATER (FEEL)” is a close second. Through repetition of the lyrics “Do you feel it, do you feel it, do you feel it too?” and sincerity in lines like “And that distance keeps us safe / But nobody told me safe is so lonely,” Knight lays his soul bare—and it pays off. Wrapping up with “A NIGHT OUT ON EARTH”, the closing track culminates with Knight’s response to fame and everything that has come with it. It’s assertive and brutally honest, but it’s the bluntness in Knight’s songwriting that keeps fans coming back for more.
From loud to quiet, aggressive to soft, unsure to confident—Waterparks’ Intellectual Property displays a full range of emotions and the complex nature of the human mind.