An album unlike any other by a band unlike any other.
It's here! Waterparks' brand new and eagerly anticipated album 'Greatest Hits' is out in the world right now via 300.
Because we've been lucky to have lived with and loved this album for quite some time, we thought it only right to put down some observations and feelings about what is an absolutely monumental achievement for the band.
Are you ready? Let's go...
So, here we go. We begin with the sound of passing traffic, crickets chirping and the occasional bristling harmony. Then Awsten opens his mouth for the first time and utters the words, "Last night I had the strangest dream of all". That refrain repeats again and again as synths begin to bubble around the eardrum. Then guitars crash, keys clatter and textures build, the whole affair becoming more and more dramatic by the second. It’s a rash and rowdy beginning to this journey that ends with a straightforward sentence.
“These are your greatest hits”
And now we are in at the deep end. Against a beat made up of clangs, whispers and even a dog barking, Awsten muses on what the shadows making their way down his hall towards him could be, and he is going to knock them into place. It’s the first instance of the fear and doubt existing at the core of this record, but the arena-ready chorus and funky-riddled basslines backing those feelings up make it difficult not to bop along. Genuinely, an instant classic.
LOWKEY AS HELL
This is the song that kicked off this whole era. It also serves as another insight into the mindset and home life that Awsten had throughout its creation. The pressure of success, the guilt of not calling his parents more and washing the tearstains off an expensive shirt, it’s a heart-breaking picture that feels, aptly, lowkey when presented inside of this quirk-filled instrumental.
You’ve heard this one already too, which means that you have the line, "My band and I are like Coldplay that’s allowed to say the fuck word". It’s also the first instance of some positivity and pride in the lyrics of this album, as layer upon layer of glistening texture coat the suave words "Self-care, green hair, I look good today". There are also observations on people only wanting to hear from Awsten when he is suffering rather than thriving. It all culminates in the sort of bludgeoning riff crafted to incite mayhem and cements itself as the most furious of Fuck Yous.
This one has just dropped and shows off another thing that has kept Awsten in his home during this time. Conjuring visions of eyes peeking through letterboxes and people standing way too close for comfort, this is a dark story masked in a ‘Dreamboy’-coloured shell. Cute enough for it to start becoming deadly and chirpy enough to coat the discomfort, it’s a sugar-coated reminder of all of the things that the band talked about on ‘FANDOM’ albeit in an even more disturbing framing.
You’ve heard this one too, but it’s worth noting what an incredible feat of song construction this is. Acting as a hybrid of lo-fi jazz, lingering ambience, and futuristic pop, the track bubbles and boils over several times throughout whilst also offering up another glimpse into the effect people’s views and opinions on the band have had on Awsten. Like a flower reacting to sunlight, it’s a song that opens itself up slowly, and the more it blooms, the more it lingers.
In an album full of stark and sincere admissions, ‘Just Kidding’ is probably the bluntest. A softly picked and guitar-driven instrumental lies below Awsten's vocal, hinting that death would be easier than having to check his notifications before pulling it all back with a giggle. However, it’s in the inhaling of breath at the end of these utterances of the title where the real genius and genuine doubt lies. Burying the pain, putting on a brave face and carrying on can only get you so far, and this song is a physical embodiment of what it's like to go through those motions.
THE SECRET LIFE OF ME
Drum and bass-leaning percussion, shimmering keys and a gorgeous pop hook make up the foundations of this daydream-filled ditty that focuses on being to escape and exist in the real world for a little bit. When he remembers that every move he makes is under a microscope, it becomes another instance of Awsten questioning his artistic position in a way that you don’t find with other artists.
Channelling the most melancholic and melodic parts of pop-punk’s playbook, the thing that sets this track apart, once again, is Awsten’s observations within his lyrics. The heart-breaking refrain of, "Usually I’m all I’ve got / Lucky for me I don’t need a lot" is just one example of a line that hits like a freight train.
YOU’D BE PARANOID TOO (IF EVERYONE WAS OUT TO GET YOU)
Here’s another one you’ve already heard, but the sentiment is still as striking as the first time it passed through your ears. From having a ‘Britney moment’ with his hair to joking about getting loads of candy after getting "cancelled", it’s a witty and well-executed take on the mayhem of life in and around the band. Plus, the title is also the name of Awsten’s book, which gives it even more sentimentality.
Now we have a love song but presented through the sort of gaze that only Waterparks can produce. Slow and sultry guitars and beautifully intense synths flutter over gooey declarations of affection and the brilliant line, "I’m a little bitch for you now". After such a heavy going approach so far, a bit of rosy-cheeked romance is a lovely change of pace and an ode to the joy that you can find in the simple things.
This is easily the most frantic and furious moment on the whole record, with harsh bass and crackling drums blasting you at an almost deafening volume from all sides. Throw in some snarling and sassy vocals, and you have a blink-and-miss-it moment unlike any other.
We all love an interlude, don’t we? Flickers of '90’s hip-hop and '00’s pop flash before your eyes as Awsten muses in the background about the more profound significance of how gladiators used to fight in ancient Rome. It’s a chance to catch your breath before we dive into the home stretch of this absolute voyage of a record.
With an instrumental that feels like rubbing a balloon against your head in a thunderstorm and a choral refrain that will lock itself firmly in your head, this is another prime example of the band pushing the very limits of what a Waterparks song can be. With Awsten musing on being magnetic to the things he hates the most, meaning that no matter what, he will always attract the negatives, it’s a proper brain melting moment that will linger on you long after it has faded.
CRYING OVER IT ALL
First off, “Violins like this make me feel crazy” is by far the best opening line to an orchestral-driven track there has ever been. However, it’s a track that deserves such a swirling instrumental, as Awsten ponders on what's at the end of all of this. Will you remember these songs when he is gone? What will this band mean when it doesn’t exist anymore? Will the things they have done mean anything at all? Some big questions are being asked that demonstrate just how deep into the corners of his head we have dived on this record.
It’s the beginning of the end, which comes in the form of a reprise of the opening track. Though in place of the thrashing guitars, we have EDM throbs. Reminding us of how far we have travelled and how much we have gone through together, it’s a perfect setup for the big finale. Are you ready?
SEE YOU IN THE FUTURE
Opening with the quite unbelievable line “If I got everything I want on Album Three / and I grew up and became who I want to be / Why am I lying when I say I feel content / I don’t want to say too much but what’s a breakdown between friends?", the curtain call for ‘Greatest Hits’ makes sure that it leaves no stone left unturned in its final flurry. Spiky, savage and sickly sweet, with a The Office reference hidden in the cracks for good measure, Awsten makes sure that every point he hasn't had the chance to touch on in the previous 16 songs is unleashed and left to linger. With one final smattering of glitter, a drum roll that could go on forever and a promise to see you in the future, they are gone. A record that cements the sentiment that no one else doing things quite like Waterparks. Witty, dark, decadent and fantastically fascinating from beginning to end, it is simply a pleasure to exist simultaneously with a band like this. These have been your greatest hits, and they are a sight to behold.
You can still pick up a copy of Rock Sound with the band on the cover, talking all about 'Greatest Hits', from right HERE