Many artists use a greatest hits album as a retrospective of their career, however, Waterparks, based out of Houston, Texas, use the namesake to make a bold claim – that their 17-track epic will be their greatest. The trio, consisting of lead singer Awsten Knight, guitarist Geoff Wigington and drummer Otto Wood, are no strangers to exploring new and fresh sounds, with this release seeing them step further away from their pop punk roots.
Greatest Hits sees Waterparks at their best. Conceptually taking place over the course of a dream, the album discusses Knight’s experience as a musician, with a focus on how it has changed due to the success of the band’s third record, FANDOM, as well as tackling the impact it has had on his mental health. With this album, Waterparks further separate themselves from the pop punk sound they were classed as for a majority of their decade-long career. Greatest Hits plays more into the pop and hip hop sounds Knight has cited as inspiration for his music, with Knight even trying his hand at rapping on some tracks. The album balances these elements with the obvious influence of pop punk and pop rock, all while maintaining Waterparks’ distinctive sound.
The album’s first and title track, “Greatest Hits,” excels at its purpose. The track introduces us to the lyrical motifs of dreaming and sleep as well as the sonic motif of outdoor ambience. The soothing vocals are paired with the tweeting of birds, pitter patter of rain, and the ticking of a clock. On the 15th strike of the clock, one for each song on FANDOM, the vocals are distorted and the electronics, along with heavy percussion, slowly build up before crashing down. The track ends with a robotic voice telling us, “These are your Greatest Hits,” before sending us into the energetic pop sound of “Fuzzy”.
Knight’s blunt lyrics perfectly compliment the chaotic and bombastic sounds of tracks like “Numb” and “LIKE IT”. Wigington’s guitar provides the jolts of energy songs like these need, while Wood’s steady drums perfectly hold the tracks together.
“Just Kidding” and “Crying Over It All” see the album step back from its high octane pace with lowkey instrumentals crafting the perfect atmosphere for each track. The small intricacies behind every Waterparks song really shine through with the slower tracks, allowing for more of the quiet instrumentals and electronics to be heard.
While consisting of silly lyrics, “Fruit Roll Ups” manages to be an endearing and heartfelt love song. Knight’s soft vocal performance on this track is accompanied by a beautiful vocal harmony courtesy of Dallon Weekes, one of the album’s many features.
The album ends with the unhinged “See You In The Future”. The track’s title refers to both seeing fans in the future (in a post-pandemic world), as well as seeing the dream world the album takes place in the next night. The song features exciting rap verses that continue to discuss themes about Knight’s life as a musician to the tune of blaring guitars. The song slows down for the chorus, before picking up again. The final verse is a bit nonsensical lyrically, reflecting themes of paranoia present in the album, before the song closes out with an intense drum solo.
Waterparks set out to produce the best music of their careers on Greatest Hits, and succeed at doing just that. The album contains everything one can expect from Waterparks – the high energy, fast pace and in your face lyrics, with perfectly placed slow downs that offer introspection and a relax period. Waterparks delivers on their bold claim, and has in fact, released their Greatest Hits.