Waterparks defy genre and religious trauma on new album

If you think the band has done it all, just you wait for what Waterparks have in-store on their newest release.  

Waterparks are back with their fifth studio album INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY, the follow-up to their 2021 album Greatest Hits. Just like previous albums, the group does not hold back. From start to finish, this album will have your ears peeled and listening to what extra sounds, affects, and hidden moments within the tracks. The more you listen, the more you are able to pick up on and add to the listening experience. 

INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY centers heavily around the theme of religious guilt and how it has affected the way he lives his life. It ranges from sexual guilt, to mental health, to just living everyday life. This album was a way to grow past the guilty feelings and defy the things that many may have been taught growing up. This idea of religious guilt is why many of the songs on the album have hypersexual undertones and themes. In an Instagram post on the Waterparks account, Knight explains the message behind the album and artwork. 

This album features roaring guitars, pounding drums, a plethora of electronic effects, playing with vocals and the music itself cannot be classified in one genre. It takes rock, pop, dance, and everything else you can imagine and throws it into the album. But the way it is arranged, produced and presented works, which is not new to the group. Every album they push the boundaries and experiment and release music that provides variety sonically and is genre bending, and make it work. 

Each track has many layers to it. Vocals are manipulated to be higher, lower, warped and more. Elements like background sounds, electronic drums, taking just sounds that Knight makes or you find in everyday life and manipulating them to create some cool and unique electronic beat or sound that transforms the song. The band even uses the voice of Kurtis Conner on the closing of “END OF THE WATER (FEEL).” The more you listen to and dissect the songs, the more you find. A single listen will not do the songs justice. 

Like most Waterparks albums, Awsten Knight is not subtle in his lyric writing. When you listen to a song, you know exactly what message he is trying to convey. With lines like “I know your dying wish is to be baptized in my spit”, Knight is not afraid to be blunt in his lyric writing. With songs like “FUCK ABOUT IT” featuring Blackbear discussing a relationship where sex is used as a way to avoid confrontation and “Self-Sabotage” talking about purposefully ruining a relationship on purpose due to your insecurities. 

Throughout the album those themes are executed in ways are times are in your face and maybe in more subtle ways, with “RITUAL” opening with an audio clip talking about sex before marriage. The opening track “ST*RFUCKER” contains the line “Jesus Christ, don’t text me back,” tying back to the religious themes of the album. The song “BRAINWASHED” has more straightforward lines pointing towards the hypersexual themes but can be inferred that Knight is dealing with guilt for feelings he is experiencing as heard on lines “What if I pray? Hoping you’ll stay into the daylight/Wait, what am I saying? I feel insane/It’s only been a couple days,” Knight references praying for what he wants and also talks about how the way he is feeling and talking is unfamiliar to him and almost feels wrong. Lyrically and sonically these tracks are different but are connected in a way that helps develop the story of the album, allowing for a smooth listening experience.

While this album tells the cohesive story and theme, not every song sounds the same. That may sound confusing, but that speaks to production and album creation of the group. They were able to provide a variety of song styles, while still making the album. The album is also one of their shorter releases with only 11 songs and coming in at just over 31 minutes. However, you do feel like you have heard a complete story in a short amount of time. The group brings a sonically diverse set of songs that showcase the groups abilities vocally, instrumentally, lyrically, production wise and just over how they have evolved as a group. This album demonstrates how the group has grown more comfortable but also how they can still continue to push themselves. 

You will also find tracks like “2 BEST FRIENDS” that have more light, playful sounding songs with some more typical pop elements, being balanced out with lyrics that when analyzed, are definitely not happy. “2 BEST FRIENDS” is about trying to go out to forget about someone and failing. The instrumental being composed of repetitive guitar riffs and drums gives the dancey feel to balance out the heavy lyrics. The lyrical content is what ties the song to the rest of the album, once again proving that while not obvious at first, every song on the album serves a purpose. Even if the sound is different from the other tracks, it is not a random addition. 

“RITUAL” is the heaviest track on the album. Knight shows off his fast-paced rap style vocal that is a staple of Waterparks tracks, and the drums on the tracks create a feeling like you are running. It is a constant pounding underneath everything else that is going on, creating a feeling of urgency, almost imitating the feeling of your mind racing. The vocals contrast with high-pitched singing in the chorus and then later on it goes into scream like heavy vocals. Throw in some lines in deeper vocals like “like a ritual” and you have a stand out Waterparks track. Again, no other song on the album sounds like it, but it still works in the context of the album as a whole. 

While there is not necessarily a slow or acoustic song on the album, the song “CLOSER” is probably the closest thing to it. This song is more toned down than some of the others. Still has many elements that make the song feel fuller. The opening of the track is an acoustic guitar but has layers of sound that sound almost choral, piano and overall angelic feeling. This song is not full of extra beats, lots of sound effects, bits of talking or electronic effects. It is more focused on the vocals and instrumentals, but still creating the atmospheric world that is created throughout the album. The vocals on the track bring out the emotion behind the lyrics. Knight has almost a pleading sound in his vocal delivery, while the lyric style almost sounds like he is giving a speech. With the closing of the sound having less instrumental, it is tamed down, bringing out the emotion. 

The production on the album is what ties it all together. Everything mixes well, the layering of instrumentals, vocals, background effects, electronic elements, everything feels like it belongs and makes each track feel complete. Even when there is a lot happening on the track and it may feel overwhelming, it is done in a way that creates the atmosphere on the track, and elevates the listening experience. This can be seen on the closing track “A NIGHT OUT ON EARTH.” This track takes everything from the entire album and summarizes it into one track. It talks about fame, mental health, and overall what it is like to live in the world today. Mix the relatable, straightforward and heavy lyrics with electronic effects, groovy instrumental moments, warped vocals, and guitar solo with heavy drums at the end and you have one of my favorite closing tracks. Your ears are full of sound and transported into the world of the song. If you need to know what the album is like in one song, this is it.

From start to finish, INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY sounds cohesive while also allowing each song to have its own unique sound and story to tell to complete the full story of the album. Once again, Waterparks demonstrate that they are not afraid to push boundaries. They are not able to be put into a category and will continue to surprise their listeners.

INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY was released on April 14 and can be streamed on all major streaming platforms.

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