ARTIST: WATERPARKS

TITLE: FANDOM

LABEL: HOPELESS RECORDS

RATING: 9.5/10

WORDS: JO COSGROVE

It’s official: God’s favourite boyband are back at it and it’s… different. American alternative band Waterparks have spent 2019 teasing their new era, from frontman Awsten Knight’s new green hair to distributing posters worldwide with different album tracks on them, and it’s obvious they’ve upped the ante tenfold since 2018’s ‘Entertainment‘. There’s no lying that Waterparks, or specifically Knight himself, are out of the ordinary in the alternative world – from their ever-changing sound to their ever-changing aesthetic, it’s all a journey of what’s right and what can be corrected. With ‘Fandom‘, a huge milestone in itself with being the band’s debut on Hopeless Records, there’s no doubting it. They’ve found what they’re looking for.

The record tells a semi-autobiographical tale of fame and its high points and low points, and how it can change someone’s life in the most personal ways. This is told mostly through the lyrics, such as in ‘Watch What Happens Next’, one of the first tracks to appear on the record. Knight sings about how, “I want a big house, I want nice things”, but shares these sentiments with the truth that, “You don’t love me the same”. It’s a light commentary on how fame and the industry is full of heartbreak and toxicity, and it all becomes clear too far down the line. Waterparks have been making music for years now, and it seems to be an essay of realisation for Knight and co. A mix between expected want and secret detest.

“it’s obvious they’ve upped the ante tenfold since 2018’s ‘Entertainment‘”

The theme continues in ‘Dream Boy’, where the music and audio effects play just as big a role in telling the story as the lyrics. It’s a catchy, stuck-in-the-head hook paired with overly autotuned chanting; inferring that a mask of fun and carelessness is hiding away the fake and artificial truth of the world that the band are seeing way too often in their work. Slowly, humility is dying and artificiality is taking over in their lives and their careers, and there is a tinge of feeling within. Negative. Not overtly negative, but it’s sensed – and this occurs throughout the rest of ‘Fandom‘.

There are also tracks that focus on Knight’s own human emotions and need to be a human being in this world while he still can; the strongest this force is felt is within ‘High Definition’. This is a Waterparks-branded love song, one that goes from wanting love, to wanting to express love, to wanting to be able to admit that, “I need to feel needed”. It’s the most human moment on the record: Knight’s own confession to wanting human relationships, but is putting his own defences up because he believes in some way he can’t maintain them and in a way doesn’t deserve them.

“a very fun, very bouncy, party-perfect album. But to the right listeners, a fifteen-track confession on why fame and celebrity isn’t as fun as it looks”

As the record reaches the end, one of the last tracks is another representation to wanting to balance out achieving dreams and living a normal natural live, the wordy-titled ‘I Miss Having Sex But At Least I Don’t Wanna Die Anymore’. It’s a different kind of heartbreak song – it’s coming to terms with life changing due to luck and circumstance, mostly from achieving dreams and breaking out in the industry, and having to repay with losing the ability to have regular human relationships. Missing that major piece of life.

Fandom’ is a very fun, very bouncy, party-perfect album. But to the right listeners, a fifteen-track confession on why fame and celebrity isn’t as fun as it looks. Or sounds.

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