Nothing this band does is without purpose – and this album is a great testament to that. From writing all kinds of inventive sound-effect laden songs heavily dependent on digitized vocal effects and techno-beats, Awsten recently mentioned having over a hundred potential songs to choose from for this latest collection. Even the name of this album is rather bold, implying perhaps a mix of greatest hits from previous releases – when in reality, fans have been blessed with seventeen new tracks dubbed with the auspicious title. This is album G – alphabetically released since Double Dare, Entertainment, and Fandom. In this vein, there are also many thematic and sonic parallels that are noticeable only to the keenest ear and the most devoted fans.
Conceptually, this album is all over the place. I’m gonna be honest with you and admit that it’s not cohesive like previous releases – and I don’t even like every song. But I’m starting to think that was the point all along. By not limiting the band to only one style, Awsten Knight, Geoff Wigington, and Otto Wood have put together something totally new. It’s still angsty, and a little melodramatic in the realm of fame and nostalgia, but it’s also got a lot of heart. Below, I’ve broken down what I think about Waterparks’ Greatest Hits.
1. Greatest Hits
Bold move to open up the album with the title track – and in this case, it’s much more like a dramatic introduction. It starts off with ambient white noise from a thunderstorm layered up against Awsten’s whispered, haunting vocals. “Last night I had the strangest dream of all” repeats over and over again in different contexts. Soon the thunderstorm drops out, making way for dramatic orchestrations with stadium-sized drums and haunting vocal samples from a movie I couldn’t place. It goes from tranquil, to haunted really fast, before ending with an automated voice proclaiming “these are your greatest hits”. Okay, solid start. I’m intrigued.
This one starts slow with a muffled entry, which gives way to a vibe similar to something Bruno Mars might release. It’s rappy, fast, and rhythmically interesting. An interesting vocal articulation launches into the chorus “everything is fuzzy when you’re not around”. The lyrics are fast (like most of the Waterparks catalogue) but it’s got a great beat. The feeling is something you could blast out of a convertible on a hot day driving down a scenic avenue. There’s also a great guitar solo that lends itself really well to the overall tense but positive feeling before pushing into the oddly-tranquil bridge section that shouldn’t fit, but it does. Parts of this song feel very cognizant of something that would fit on Double Dare (their first full-length album). I have a feeling this trend of incorporating sonic elements from previous releases will continue.
3. Lowkey As Hell
Bright guitar phrases open up this tune, before moving to the airy pre-chorus. This song was the lead single of this album era, and had a very intriguing premiere with a very weird video (as is typical for the band). You can read more about that in a previous article HERE.
“How can I be your black hole and your favorite constellation?” This one starts off with just an acoustic guitar and some vocal articulations mimicking the main riff off of clever lyrics of duality and frustration. Then Awsten starts rapping and the song really takes off. “My band and I are like Coldplay that’s allowed to say the f— word / you, you’re like, the biggest gummy bummy dummy ugly motherf—–” is a really odd lyric, but I found it both intriguing and humorous. It sings like a rant, but there’s an intriguing sense of confidence in that as well that rings through. Later on in the song, thunderstorm effects come back full-force harkening back to the dramatics of the opening track. With sound effects cognizant of a machine breaking, there’s a chaotic sort of beauty in the chaos. Soak it in with this delightfully weird video HERE.
This one is a serious contender for being my favorite on the album, and it transitions seamlessly from the previous track (this technique is especially noticeable from the band’s previous album Fandom). It’s bright in tone but dark in content, as it depicts the struggle Awsten had dodging a stalker. As you may know, he has synesthesia (meaning that he associates colors with sounds, in his case). And like, this song really sounds purple. I don’t know how, but I can’t un-see it. Cool. Also accompanied by a unique concept video involving all three boys spending a lot of time at home (relatable, right?). “Looking through the peephole at the door of my apartment / my panic’s at the ceiling but I’m flat down on the carpet” is so cool from a lyric perspective if you think about the rhyme schemes and rhythms that Awsten uses. The shot of him lying in the ice bath is a nod to the later song on their album, but also reminded me of Taylor Swift in “Look What You Made Me Do”. Anyway, you can watch the Waterparks video HERE.
6. Snow Globe
Yet another one of the early-released singles is up next on the album, and opens with a dramatic piano trill. Then we head into the realm of the techno again, and I don’t know how the band did it, but this song sounds like winter. The bigger theme is “my tiny little world is in your hands / so shake it like a snow globe f— my plans” as a nod toward the toxic fans who always have an opinion about his life. The guy just wants to make music, for goodness sakes. Let him do that, and enjoy it. It’s not that complicated. Although the production value on their music is always out of sight – and Awsten does a lot of this himself alongside producer Zakk Cervini. You can watch the video HERE.
7. Just Kidding
This one is honestly really depressing in tone and context. I really hope Awsten is doing okay these days, because songs like these make me worry about him a little. Listen to the chorus – you’ll get what I mean. I know fame is hard, but dude – you worked so hard for this and achieved your goals – so celebrate that! At least the guitar riffs behind it are pretty, and there’s some depth in here that is relatable (at least in the realm of insecurity). And there’s also the bigger point of making mental health struggles less taboo and more mainstream – which I can definitely get behind. Watch the concept video HERE.
8. Secret Life of Me
Oh, I really like this one. Immediately, the intro gave me Mario Kart Coconut Mall vibes. You’ll know it when you’ll hear it. It’s also got some psychedelic sci-fi feels that feel futuristic but whimsical – kind of like the movie Meet the Robinsons. My only point of contention is his use of “g-damn”, as it just personally isn’t my taste and also serves no purpose. But other than that, this is an introvert anthem “Sunday, maybe on a Sunday I could sit and sunbathe / I could run away like that” is clever. Also love the lead guitar echoes behind the bridge – it’s got that vintage nostalgic 80s rock feel but would also work great for running on a treadmill. Nice work, Parx boys.
9. American Graffiti
Okay, this one really might be my favorite on the album. Other fans mentioned it has some strong Blink-182 vibes, which I also relate to. It’s easily the most pop-punk on the album, harkening back to previous eras of bands like As It Is or Paramore (two bands I really loved at least at some points in my life). Sonically, it also reminded me heavily of “Cough Syrup” by Young the Giant. So these could all be possible inspirations for Awsten, but this song also stands strong on its own. “I’m like American Graffiti / If you need me I’m here now” shows that Awsten always is around for those he cares about, but also maybe feels taken for granted at times and doubts his own ability to maintain healthy relationships. The song ends on a single note, that just happens to be the tonal center. A lovely resolution for a great tune.
10. You’d Be Paranoid Too (If Everyone Was Out To Get You)
This song was actually a book first! Well, it was a hilarious recount of Awsten’s young adult life starting the band and living life. I’ve read it, and it’s seriously great. I love seeing how he hints at different projects coming up (even writing the title on a shirt he wore for an interview a while ago). It’s another commentary on fame, but it’s tongue-in-cheek: “I’m a little bit of a little bitch so / I’mma turn around and say some stupid sh*t no / had a Britney moment and I cut it off”, for example. It’s got great electric guitar, drums, and energy to it while contributing to the “Violet!” theme of always being watched. Watch the video HERE.
11. Fruit Roll Ups
So cute! This one heaps on the nostalgia, kind of embodying the idea that you don’t know you’re in the good old days until they’re gone. It’s got a childhood vibe despite a bit of profanity sprinkled throughout (which also defines Awsten Knight as a whole). This song seems to be the story of Awsten trying to get his crush’s attention as a kid, explained by nostalgic elements like Pacific cooler (Capri-Suns), gel pens, and of course, fruit roll-ups. This takes you right back to the 2000s, which loads of techno beats that feel equal parts melodramatic and wistful. This is the only song on the album that’s in 3/4 time, a lovely waltz beat alongside lyrics that scream love song.
12. Like That
This one is super angry, and instantly gave me Beastie Boys vibes. It’s basically all yelling, over-powering effects, and just general weirdness. If that’s your thing, enjoy. But it’s not my personal taste. The gritty effects were seen on Fandom in songs like “War Crimes” and “Turbulent”. So it’s nothing that the band hasn’t already done before, but it misses the mark for me just due to how busy and needlessly chaotic (was that a whoopee cushion?) it is. Although it was fun having James from Rocksound sampled in it!
13. Gladiator (Interlude)
This song is short, as it just serves as a place in between the previous song and the next. It’s dramatic, and features Awsten talking about gladiators. Cool? I don’t know. Seems unnecessary to me, despite some neat sound effects I guess. Whatever. Seems like a great example of what some fans had called Awsten just messing around on his MacBook and calling it a song.
Promising start, but it gets angsty fast. Like I want to like it – I really do. But it’s just a lot. Aggressive, is the word that sticks in my head the most. I’m sure it holds a good amount of meaning for the band, but to me, it’s the sonic representation of what anxiety actually feels like. So if that’s what they meant to do with this one, props for that.
15. Crying Over It All
Instant Florence and the Machine vibes with this one – so that’s a new style for the band. Neat! It’s definitely sadboi music, and I do feel like we’ve had quite enough of that, but aside from that, it’s intriguing. Those harmonies are sick, and I love the sparkly(?) effects around the lyrics. It’s got a sense of magic to it, and even references “Cherry Red” from the previous album Fandom. “Practice your passion on me / give me a hundred degrees” has a sense of desperation to it, but it’s also really beautiful and honest. Give this one a chance – it’s not my favorite, but it’s got a lot more going for it than the previous few songs. The bridge is actually really cool, so I love hearing those rhythmic changes paired up with lyrics that I can actually understand.
16. Ice Bath
Well, this title is certainly very fitting, because the song starts off ambient, and then it’s like a bucket of ice water to your face. I liked the circularity of of the title track – it expands on those ideas, so you kind of come back to something you’re familiar with but in a new way. We saw this similar concept with “Dream Boy” and “Zone Out” from Fandom. That is, until the gritty vocals come in. Brace yourself for that – it’s a trip. It kind of blends a lot of different styles together, like some interesting falsettos alongside the bigger, almost animatronic feel of “last night I had the strangest dream of all”.
17. See You in the Future
This one is fast – the fastest rapping we’ve ever seen from Awsten. And that’s saying a lot because he does this kind of thing fairly often. In the short term, it’s a commentary on the postponing of all concerts for over a year – and that’s what they’ve also named their tour. “If you could see the things that I see in my sleep, then you’d be paranoid like me” directly matches up with the deep breaths you can actually hear on the album, and the crippling anxiety that Awsten struggles with every day. Yet another appearance of “g-damn” which has no purpose and just bugs me, but hey – artistic freedom, whatever.
All that being said, I have much respect for the band’s creativity and sonic vision – there is so much going on, and I do think some of these songs will grow on me. Some of them, anyway. We’ll see.