Waterparks – ‘Greatest Hits’ review: the sounds of 2021 on shuffle

The band's fourth album is no retrospective hagiography, but instead takes a bold step into sprawling new territory

After three albums of hyperactive punk-pop that saw vocalist Awsten Knight tackle millennial angst with absolutely no filter, it should come as little that Waterparks’ fourth album is audaciously called ‘Greatest Hits’. The title might bait fans and haters alike but rather than playing it safe and releasing a clutch of uptempo, radio-friendly bangers (or actually be a compilation of their biggest songs) ‘Greatest Hits’ is instead a 17-track epic in which they their hand at emo-rap, stadium rock, club floor-fillers, chaotic hyperpop and lo-fi confessionals. It sounds like 2021 on shuffle.

Wrestling with the pressures of fame and general existence, on introspective ‘Just Kidding’ Knight details emotions of feeling overwhelmed (“I wish I was dead sometimes so I wouldn’t have to check my phone”) though later undercuts the stark vulnerability with a “just kidding”; it’s on the listener to discern how sincere either of those messages are. The sunny, laced-with-irony ‘Lowkey As Hell’ (or, perhaps, not) sees Knight refer to his issues as “Drake problems” and ‘See You In The Future’ poses the question “what’s a meltdown between friends?”. It’s peak millennial apathy.

Its runtime of 47-minutes might seem intimidating, but there’s a sense of urgency to ‘Greatest Hits’. ‘LIKE IT’ is a swaggering hip-hop anthem delivered with a snotty punk attitude, ‘Ice Bath’ echoes the dreamy opening of the title track but views it through a horror filter while ‘Fruit Roll Ups’ is a sugary dollop of romance, topped with glitching synths and a 6-part vocal harmony, courtesy of IDKHow’s Dallon Weekes.

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Even the familiar feels fresh. ‘American Graffiti’ is a forward-thinking slice of pop-punk that isn’t afraid to get heavy, while the moody arena-rock rager of ‘You’d Be Paranoid Too (If Everyone Was Out To Get You)’ sees Waterparks become a supergroup with appearances from My Chemical Romance’s Mikey Way, Dashboard Confessional’s Chris Carrabba and alt-popstar De’Wayne.

Despite the numerous directions ‘Greatest Hits’ charges off in and the many styles they splice together, this album never feels like bad cover versions. Guitar bands have been talking about creating music outside genre for over a decade, but this record truly shows what that freedom looks like. Instead of celebrating the past, ‘Greatest Hits’ is opening the door to what comes next.

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