The latest and considerably most ambitious addition to Waterparks’ alphabetized discography is the highly anticipated Greatest Hits. The record’s name alone is setting the bar high, but this is not a band that would make such a statement unless they could not only meet but succeed expectations.
The track ‘Greatest Hits’ serves its purpose as an introduction with chilling effect, a compilation of SFX, distorted vocals, and the repeated lyric, “Last night I had the strangest dream of all.” Thumping drums and warped guitar join the mix before a robotic voice declares, “these are your Greatest Hits.”
Next up is ‘Fuzzy,’ which has received a lot of buzz on social media— and for good reason. The energy is fast-paced and in-your-face, which has become somewhat of a signature for Waterparks. It’s easy to imagine an adoring crowd bouncing up and down during the chorus of this song during its first live performance— it’s the perfect cocktail of vibrant vocals and a crashing melody.
Previous releases ‘Lowkey as Hell’ and ‘Numb’ may already be familiar with fans. Still, the listening experience is refreshed by their placement on the album, particularly with the latter and its fantastic transition into ‘Violet!’ which was a surprise drop earlier this week. The new track details lead singer Awsten Knight’s run-in with an overzealous fan-cum-stalker, and while the situation is alarming, there is humor behind the lyrics: “It’s like I’m watching You / But it’s about me / And just to be clear / I mean the show, you’re Joe.”
Two more singles follow, ‘Snow Globe’ and ‘Just Kidding,’ which draw the mood down with their hard-hitting lyrics. They both give insight into Knight’s complicated world, which will undoubtedly resonate with fans as in life, we all have to take the rough with the smooth.
‘The Secret Life of Me’ reintroduces the high energy, incorporating elements of electropop that are often found in Waterparks songs. The melody is repetitive, allowing the vocals to truly shine throughout— revealing a thinly-veiled take on Knight’s mental health lyrically. This theme continues into the pop-rock ‘American Grafitti,’ which isn’t unlike the early 00s smash hits of bands like Blink-182 and Good Charlotte.
The middle point of the album is marked by ‘You’d Be Paranoid Too (If Everyone Was Out To Get You),’ a name shared by the book written by Knight and published in 2019. This previously heard single has been well received by fans, cementing it solidly as a hit. ‘Fruit Roll Ups’ is a love song, Waterparks-style, meaning it tosses convention aside to offer up something far fresher. “I’m a little bitch for you now,” drills the point home in this measured gem, and while the words are choice, you can tell it comes from the heart.
The tone shifts for ‘LIKE IT,’ which begins by sampling Rocksound’s James Wilson-Taylor from when he interviewed the band backstage at their London show in 2019. This track has the influence of Beastie Boys written all over it; it perfectly balances heavy components with hip-hop. However, the genre-bending doesn’t stop there, as the short but sweet interlude ‘Gladiator’ delves into the delightfully funky, only further showcasing Waterparks’ versatility.
Once again, Waterparks employ their fantastic way of combining saccharine-sweet with a heavier input on ‘Magnetic,’ which also features an earworm of a chorus, so we expect this one to leave an impression. It’s a dramatic contrast from its successor, ‘Crying All Over It All,’ which brings us back to the realm of heartfelt words and softer melodies.
The album rounds off first with the penultimate track, ‘Ice Bath,’ picking back up where the album started by repeating, “Last night I had the strangest dream of all.” This reprise goes further, though— some particularly pummeling vocals with falsetto weaved in are the star of this unusual gem, setting up for the closer, ‘See You In The Future.’ Sharing its name with the Waterparks tour rescheduled and then rescheduled again due to COVID-19, this song brings the record to its end with vigor. Knight has an undeniable talent for reeling off lyrics, backed by absolute pillars of expertise: drummer Otto Wood and guitarist Geoff Wigington.
It’s as clear as the eye can see (or ear can hear, rather) that Waterparks have put their all into this release. Times are strange, and artists have had to adapt to survive, but without being able to tour, it has allowed for an extra level of care to go into songwriting that may not have been possible before. Greatest Hits lives up to its name; this record is one for the ages.