Album Review: Double Dare by Waterparks

Album Review: Double Dare by Waterparks

Liz Keller

By Liz Keller ’17, Arts and Entertainment Editor

Waterparks is a band that’s hard to define. Their music contains elements of pop, pop-punk, and synths, but is easily accessible. This November, Waterparks released their first full-length album, Double Dare. Though this is the band’s first album, they already have an impressive resume. Benji and Joel Madden (Good Charlotte, The Madden Brothers) produced their 2016 EP Cluster, which also featured Mikey Way (Electric Century, My Chemical Romance) on bass. If you’ve opened a copy of The Alternative Press this year, there’s a pretty good chance you’ve seen Waterparks there. They were also on Warped Tour this summer and have toured with Sleeping With Sirens and State Champs. The band’s bright, fun sound coupled with meaningful lyrics and goofy antics make the Houston three-piece one to watch.

The first song on the album, “Hawaii (Stay Awake)” premiered on Pete Wentz’s Hits and Misses in October. The song focuses mainly on depression, but in true pop-punk style pairs the sadder message with upbeat music. It makes the topic more accessible, and the song compares depression to things that everyone can understand. The main feature in the music on this track is Awsten Knight’s vocals which can captivate any listener. The next song, “Gloom Boys”, is an automatic change of pace in music. The themes of depression and anxiety continue in this song, though the song is a bit less catchy and features more bass. The lyric “happy songs that sound nice/ even with their words like dog bites” perfectly captures the essence of pop-punk, and more specifically, the album. The bridge slows the song down, and portrays the feeling of hopelessness that accompanies mental illness.

The next song, “Stupid For You”, was the first single off of the album, and is about Knight’s girlfriend. With the lyric “I’m natural blue”, the first verse references a song off of their 2014 EP Black Light, “I’m A Natural Blue”, and Awsten Knight’s hair, which is died a light blue most of the time. The song is driven by a guitar part, which provides an amazing beat, even if it isn’t very melodic. So far, this is the only song on the album with a music video where the band pretends to be a pretentious boyband. The fourth song on the album, “Royal”, premiered on the BBC Radio One Rock Show in late October, and its catchiness makes it an obvious single and an instant hit. Even though it’s not my favorite song on the album, it is the one that gets stuck in my head the most. The song features pop-punk’s famous “na, na, na’s” that have become a staple in the genre. The lyrics talk about the hard work that is part of being a musician: “Cause I work myself to death, don’t believe me? Ask Geoff.” Geoff Wigington is the guitarist of the band, and often considered to be the dad of the band. They wish they were royal, because everything would be easier if they were. The song is one that you can’t help but dance to.

“Take Her To The Moon” is one of the songs on the album that features the most synth. It also name-drops the album in the first verse. It’s an extremely upbeat love song that talks about the desire to be love and be loved in return. Even though the song has a lot of synth, it is extremely well done and is still palatable for even the most grudging punk rocker. “Made In America” is Waterparks’ societal commentary. The song talks about how on the outside America looks great, but will actually do anything to get what it wants. The song also discusses the fact that we as Americans expect everything to be handed to us and take things for granted that others have to work hard for. The song also discusses cultural appropriation with one of my favorite lyrics on the album: “We’re culture vultures picking from the honest pieces.” Once again, Waterparks hits you with a wall of upbeat sound that supports the deeper meaning of the song.

“Dizzy” starts out very differently from the rest of the album. It has a much slower start that is reminiscent of hand-clapping games that we all played as kids. The song focuses once more on mental illness. The song has vocals more similar to rap with more melodic vocals during the chorus. The continuous rhythm of the song provides a groove to move to and allows the lyrics to be front and center. “Powerless” is the ballad of the album, a moving love song about caring for someone who may not care for you the same way or may not be ready to reciprocate your feelings. The verses feature the lower end of Awsten Knight’s register until they break free in a desperate chorus that articulates the pain of unrequited love.

The next song, “Little Violence”, brings the album to a more upbeat and slightly angrier place, dealing with problems that surround the pop-punk genre. The first verse references both the song “Mad All The Time” off of the Crave EP and the Black Light EP. The pun “copycats are getting feral now” introduces some humor to the song which lightens up the problem-revealing nature of the song. One of the problems discussed is the fans’ hatred of sellouts, even if that is the only way to get the music out there. “21 Questions” is by far the most acoustic song on the album, and slows it down once more. The song talks about the complication and self-doubt that mental illness brings into a relationship. “It Follows” is another song about the complications that mental illness can bring into a relationship, like getting too attached to someone that can hurt you. It also speaks to the kids who live outside of the mainstream, who didn’t get their first kiss when they were fifteen, and are maybe still looking. The song’s strong drum track moves it forward along with a synth rhythm at the end of the song.

“Plum Island” is the song that starts by asking: How fast can Otto Wood drum? The answer, of course, is really fast. The song deals with the pressure that the fans put on musicians to try and make them be the bands that they want, but maybe not who they really are. The album once again deals with mental illness on this track, because it is often something that both fans and musicians of the genre share. The song harkens back to the good old days in 2011 when the band was just forming, when they didn’t feel so much pressure and could be who they wanted to be. The final song on the album, “I’ll Always Be Around”, is a love song about how Awsten always wants this person around. Though it is about his girlfriend, the song also mirrors the attitude of many fans towards the music and musicians that they follow: that these bands are always there for them. The song features violins and lacks synth, creating a more punk rock feeling.

Double Dare is an amazing album that easily became radio successful, especially considering the rising popularity of the alternative and pop-punk genres. Waterparks is an amazing band to follow even if it is just for Awsten Knight’s crazy twitter, Otto Wood unicycling around venue parking lots, and the crazy antics the band get up to, including selling body pillows with their pictures on them instead of vinyl, and kicking each other out of the bed at least once a week. Double Dare is a record that is accessible to everyone from your hardcore metalcore fan to those that prefer top 40 songs.