By Marvin Dotiyal, Features Editor
[Equal Vision; 2018]
Key Tracks: “11:11”, “Blonde”, “TANTRUM”
Houston pop-rock trio Waterparks returns with their sophomore LP, Entertainment. After taking a big step in the scene with their electro-infused pop-punk aesthetic in Double Dare, Waterparks’ latest amplifies their essence with more emphasis on vocalist Awsten Knight’s overflowing flamboyance and flashy, electronic adornments. Entertainment is poppier but also a heavier progression from Double Dare.
Waterparks starts the album right with “11:11”. With just enough synth overlays and a driving rock energy to hold the song together, the chorus is infectious with its witty, cutesy lyrics that will linger in your head: “I must’ve caught you from 11:11 / My lucky number seven / I try to hide with my words / But you just find me clever.” The song is basically Waterparks in three minutes and it’s a great opener to familiarize new listeners and enliven old fans.
“Blonde” is a reminiscent throwback to the neon pop-punk era, comprising of bouncy guitars, an accessible pop sound and arguably the biggest hook the band has ever written. It also flaunts Knight’s remarkable vocal control right in the beginning, along with his subtle falsettos and his rhythm-driven lyrics that are carefully placed to enhance the flow along with the melody.
The band finds a moderate balance of pop and rock throughout the album. “Not Warriors” and “Peach (Lobotomy)” are as poppy as it gets, and “We Need to Talk” and “Crybaby” are fully electronic, comparable to artists like The Ready Set but minus the heavy, nasally auto-tune. And of course, there’s also a lovey-dovey, acoustic song in the middle to settle things down (“Lucky People”). “TANTRUM”, however, is a heavy banger with a gritty guitar riff, a bashing drum beat and not to mention Knight’s deviating, aggressive vocals. Everything else falls in between these extremes with—you guessed it—a sprinkle electronic elements on top.
As a relatively short 10-track album, however, fillers and mediocre songs tend to stand out very easily. Some songs contain weak, artificial lyrics that only go well with Knight’s melodies, and its overly repetitive pop sound can become not only overwhelming but also predictable and boring by the second half of the album.
Regardless, Entertainment shows that Waterparks knows the way to offset multiple musical elements without resorting to a mess of a cliché. Although musically, the songs are pretty basic and far from technical, their interplay of combining electronic influences with rock is effective and fascinating, to say the least. Overall, Entertainment is a fun, enjoyable record that sits in the gray between pop and rock.