Album review: Waterparks – INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY

Waterparks follow-up 2021’s sprawling Greatest Hits with more concise – but no less genre-defying – fifth LP.

Album review: Waterparks – INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY
Emily Carter

As Awsten Knight once told us in 2019: “On average, people have 50,000 thoughts a day.” He was relaying this brain-busting fact by way of explaining how a lot of people believe they have the Waterparks frontman all figured out. Spoiler: they didn’t back then. And they still don’t now.

Five albums into their career and with hundreds of viral tweets and TikToks behind him, you’d think we’d be getting closer to working Awsten out. But on INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY, the 31-year-old unveils a whole new side to his make-up that hadn’t previously been broadcast so openly: religious guilt.

Jesus Christ won’t text me back,’ he jokes on blissful hyperpop-esque opener ST*RFUCKER, while the album is bookended with the career-defining epic A NIGHT OUT ON EARTH, featuring another reference to the Messiah and how he ‘hates my guts / It’s getting personal’. It’s a fascinating new take from a band who consistently reinvent themselves, and adds emotional heft to such creatively playful music (even the album cover, a cartoon-ish blue poison dart frog, represents how those particular amphibians are apparently considered ‘dirty’ in a biblical sense).

Of course, this is still Waterparks, and the animated side to Awsten’s personality shines through the songs: from the infectiously heavy RITUAL, which features layered screams from his local Houston buddy Vincente Void of Darke Complex, to the frankly adorable two-minute sugar rush of 2 BEST FRIENDS.

It’s also impressively to-the-point. Whereas 2021’s Greatest Hits was an experimental rollercoaster ride clocking in at 17 songs, INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY instead offers up 11 perfectly-formed bangers, tackling everything from cinematic pop (END OF THE WATER) to loved-up acoustic rock (CLOSER) and straight-up rowdy chaos (REAL SUPER DARK). Then there’s the undeniable pop-rock of previous singles FUNERAL GREY and BRAINWASHED, which have already racked up streams in their millions and show that even when they’re going down a more ‘straight-ahead’ route, Waterparks are on dazzling form.

When it comes to album six, at this point only Awsten knows what other layers of his life he’ll start peeling back. But in the meantime, INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY is both an excellent deep-dive into one of rock’s most charismatic stars, and another compelling addition to a discography that always succeeds in bringing something fresh to the table.

Verdict: 4/5

For fans of: Fall Out Boy, twenty one pilots, Stand Atlantic

INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY is out now Fueled By Ramen. Waterparks return to the UK later this year with Stand Atlantic.

Read this: Waterparks: “This is the best version of us – with new and exciting steps forward”

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