Waterparks-Double Dare Album Review

Story posted November 14, 2016 in CommRadio by Allison Wulfhorst

Three-piece pop rock band Waterparks formed in Houston, Texas in 2011. The young group are signed to Equal Vision Records and released their debut album, Double Dare on Nov. 4 and another EP earlier in 2016. Additionally, they also have two EPs, which were released in 2012 and 2014. The signing to Equal Vision has helped them find and develop their sound and is greatly improved upon on Double Dare.

This record showed the band discovered the delicate balance between pop rock and a more pop sound created by the use of a variety of electronic effects. Some songs lean towards either side of this spectrum, but the record as a whole is balanced. It shows that Waterparks experimented with different elements and carefully crafted a product that shows them all off in their own unique ways. Nothing is overpowering or overwhelming, it’s a blend that the listener won’t be able to get enough of. Here’s a song-by-song break down of the band’s new album.

“Hawaii (Stay Awake):” This song serves as a nice introduction to the sound Waterparks is established with this record. It’s a good introduction to Awsten Knight’s vocals and the mix of pop rock with electronic effects they utilize in their songs on this album. The effects like the ones used in the background of the chorus. Knight’s voice is so easy to listen to and puts you in the trance that is Waterparks through the blended elements the boys incorporated.

“Gloom Boys:” This song, along with the whole album, is fun to listen to, and the pre-chorus shows that off. Knight sings this part of the song quickly and creates a special effect that cannot be achieved with simply the electronic sounds. A glow/starry effect with the slight twinkle sound is created in the chorus and between that and the hard rock rhythm and Knight’s vocals, new layers are added. Like many other songs on Double Dare, the catchiness of the instrumentals does not cause the lyrics to suffer. Knight uses creative but fun lyrics, which is not easy to achieve, especially for their first album. An example of the lyrics is, “I brought a knife to a gun fight, I brought my words to a fist fight.”

“Stupid for You:” In the beginning, they mention colors like “natural blue,” which comes from one of their older songs, “I’m a Natural Blue.” The high pitched “hey” in the chorus is a wonderful addition that improves upon the chorus. Knight’s vocal talent is unique and the way he goes from soft vocals before he explodes into harder vocals at points of the chorus creates depth. Like all the rest of the songs on this record, this is a fun song that makes the listener want to get up and dance. Like “Gloom Boys,” there is still no lack of creative lyrics, especially the use of this metaphor: “You’re a symphony and I’m just a sour note.”

“Take Her to the Moon:” This track is the most pop-like song on the record, but one of its best parts is the chorus, which with the use of the starry electronic effects seems like it could be featured in an Owl City song. These types of effects are used the most in this song as they are scattered all throughout. A technique like this allows for more emphasis on them when paired with the instrumentals.  And Waterparks makes it work so perfectly. The verse and the pre-chorus are quite different with alternating vocals, allowing the lone vocalist to shift and recreate his sound. He sings back and forth with himself, as if he were singing a duet with someone else.

 “Made in America:” Putting the most pop song next to a hard rock one in the track list creates such a great contrast. This is a fast-paced pop rock song that has more emphasis on the instrumentals, but it still has those slight electronic effects. Like in the verse, they use an effect that is similar to a synth sound. The topic of this song reminds me of Green Day’s work, as Waterparks uses certain diction when describing American culture. “We’re made in America/We’re classic hysteria/We’re culture cashing, hazard smashing.”

“Powerless” and “21 Questions:” These are the two slow songs on this record and both feature acoustic sounds. “Powerless” has a more explosive chorus, with the introduction of drums and guitars, meanwhile, “21 Questions” keeps the acoustic track for the majority of the time. “Powerless” has a story element to it, which Knight auditorily paints for the listener. “21 Questions” is a rawer sound, since it sounds like just the acoustic guitar and Knight’s voice. Those vocals sound the most different out of the whole album, not as magical like on the other tracks. Both songs show off his vocal talent in a different but special way.

“Little Violence:” This song sounds like the hardest-hitting because of Knight’s aggressive vocals. Although it has these hard-hitting guitars, drums, and even vocals, the band still makes the electronic effects work. Knight can transition from the vocals listeners are familiar with featured on the rest of the record to the more aggressive ones in little time.

“Plum Island:” The intro does not even sound like a Waterparks song, but its easily recognizable once the chorus hits. The way the guitar erupts after the chorus and leads back into the drums shines with the electronic effects that are added, like a dreamy synth sound that can be heard clearly after the second chorus. There’s different aspects of this song that are separate but when put together they fit, even though it doesn’t seem like they would when they are apart. From the hard guitar and drum combos to pure electronics to the mix of instrumentals and electronics, all work wonderfully on this album.

Double Dare is a work of art that hooks the listener from start to finish, and achieving an experience that cannot compare to many other releases. It creates another realm of starry and unique effects that listeners get to wander around in for 44 minutes. This album is an experience no one will want to miss out on.

Rating: 9.5/10


Allison Wulfhorst is a freshman majoring in Journalism. To contact her, email her at akw5392@psu.edu.