Waterparks might just be the biggest band of tomorrow; for as much as they are a genre-busting collective of friends who play music, hang out, and constantly flip the script, they really represent a movement, something that’s strongly reflected across their fifth studio album INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY. Marking their first release since signing with Fueled By Ramen, the band’s latest project finds the Houston natives diving further into their genre-defying soundscape, resulting in what could be their best record to date, as they explore the journey of breaking down the barriers formed by a religious upbringing.
“I don’t wanna be toxic, I just wanna be honest,” states frontman Awsten Knight on the electronic-fuelled “ST*RFUCKER.” It’s an utterance that appears to shape the rest of the record with Knight continuing to pen lyrics that defy the religious conventions in his personal life. The playful track, which masks the religious darkness with hyper-pop melodies and dizzying, electronic beats that perfectly soundtrack a round of Mario Kart, immediately throws you into Knight’s damaged relationship with religion as he proclaims “Jesus Christ won’t text me back.” The short and sweet introduction, despite being simple with its chorus of “it’s been a pleasure / it’s nice to meet you,” makes for a perky, fun-loving opener that keeps its audience intrigued for what’s to follow.
As Knight continues to grapple with complicated relationships, there’s also part of him that’s figuring out who he is and what he wants. Giving listeners a glimpse into his manic state of mind, “FUNERAL GREY” and “BRAINWASHED” follows Knight as he toys back and forth between the confusion of his feelings and admitting them. The light-hearted “FUNERAL GREY,” which is driven by drummer Otto Wood’s beats, finds Knight confused, somewhat reflecting on a love-at-first-sight situation, as he proclaims “I know you’ll make my head spin,” before admitting “I’m melting for you,” whereas the sunshine-filled “BRAINWASHED” discusses the ups and downs of infatuation through happy guitars and coy lyrics as Knight repeatedly questions “Why do I think you’re so cool?”, expressing how he feels insane as “it’s only been a couple of days.”
Taking INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY to the next level is the infectious “RITUAL”, a track that delves deeper into religious trauma. With its heavier, more metal-influenced sound, the chaotic tune, which features layered screams from Vincente Void of Darke Complex, opens with a snippet of a popular abstinence program that was often shown in schools and churches to set the scene for what was about to unfold. Full of brutally honest lyricism, the hard-hitting, aggressive track, which stands as one of Waterparks’ heaviest tracks to date, relies on its emo rap verses and throbbing synths to devastating effect as Knight raspily proclaims: “My inner child needs a bulletproof vest / And a phone that can’t text / And twenty years rest / Build a bomb shelter, bite a belt for the stress / Never knowin’ what’s next, next.”
Packed with catchy melodies reminiscent of 2016’s Double Dare, cohesive poetry similar to 2018’s Entertainment and the same level of brutal honesty found in 2019’s Fandom, INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY is quintessential Waterparks. It perfectly melts all of their eras together, something that will only elevate their career, and finds them taking a bold step in the right direction. All that’s left to say is that Waterparks haven’t missed a single mark with this one but we think they already know that.