Back in 2015, my boyfriend added two songs by Waterparks, currently one of the biggest bands in the pop punk scene, to a playlist he made for me. I listened to those songs (“Silver” and “I’m a Natural Blue”) a couple of times and promptly forgot about them. They were good tracks, but lacked what I was looking for at the time. A little over two years later, despite their growing fame and a brand new collection of songs, the band unfortunately still lacks what I’m looking for.
I started the band’s second full-length album, Entertainment, with high hopes. Frontman Awsten Knight has what could be considered a bromance with the popular music publication Alternative Press, so I figured they wouldn’t steer me wrong. Oh, Alt Press, why was I ever optimistic?
Entertainment could be described as “cute,” or maybe even “adorable,” if I’m feeling generous. The songs don’t really fit together, feature a range of strange effects, and sometimes lean a bit too heavy on autotune. I know the band is a self-professed “boy band,” but I suppose I figured they were being facetious. The first track on the album, “11:11”, supported my view that Waterparks focused more on punk than pop, but over the course of the album’s nine other tracks, the band proved me wrong.
If we can be transparent, I made a temporary playlist in preparation for writing this review, titled, “Songs From Entertainment I Like.” Out of the 10-track album, I added four to that playlist: The album’s two first tracks, aforementioned “11:11” and lead single, “Blonde”, along with “Not Warriors” and “Rare”. I found the other six tracks to be filler and either immaturely written, musically uninteresting, or both. The song “We Need to Talk” begins so lyrically similar to Justin Bieber’s hit “Love Yourself” that I couldn’t get past it. Referencing the 2015 Bieber track, Knight opens the song with the lines, “Your mama likes me / And she doesn’t like anyone”.
“Lucky People,” is about Knight’s ex-girlfriend, who he apparently thought he was going to marry, and includes the childish line, “Happy birthday / Merry Christmas / To the one I call my Mrs.” I actually laughed out loud when I heard that line. Is this Nickelodeon? Is Awsten Knight the future and real-life iteration of the Disney Channel show Austin and Ally in which the titular character’s name is Austin Moon? The world may never know. It’s cheesy and maybe some people think it’s sweet, but “Lucky People” ends up being another filler track on an album that needed more substance in order to hold up to what I know of their past work.
Before concluding, we need to talk about “TANTRUM”, a track that sounds exactly like you’d expect from its name. It’s loud, obnoxious, and, as the title suggests, childish. Knight calls out people he dislikes by name and profanity abounds. It’s a fair effort in sincerity, but the track never lands right, leaving the listener a bit put off.
Even as someone who thoroughly enjoys a good pop album, Entertainment was too much. There are moments when the instrumentation aligns and the band executes a fun chorus or makes you nod and smile, but those moments are far too few.
Waterparks are a band that could have a promising career in the scene. They’re talented musicians and seem to have a large following, but for a band that’s now been around for seven years, it’s time to up the ante. It’s time to find the sound that defines them, but also to use the platform they’ve been given to write something more than bubblegum-y pop rock. Maybe they can find a way to channel the anger of “TANTRUM” into a song about something of substance. Here’s hoping they do.
by Nadia Paiva
Nadia Paiva has been a music enthusiast since she can remember. Going to shows is her main pastime. The other is being upset when she can’t go to shows. This is her first official venture into writing about music. You can follow her on Twitter.