Waterparks have burst onto the scene with their debut album, ‘Double Dare’, a record as catchy as it is hollow. In paying musical homage to some of their favourite bands of pop-punk past, they’ve found it difficult to create their own distinctive sound, instead delivering an assorted chocolate box of sugary sweet songs that rattle off one after the other with almost no threads linking them.
Is there any difference between pop-punk and pop nowadays? On the variety-show Children In Need earlier this month, we were ‘treated’ to a comeback from boy band Busted (fronted by Charlie Simpson), who played a new, ‘mature’ song for their now fully-adult fans. If that same song had turned up on ‘Double Dare’, you wouldn’t know the difference. The same could also be said about Justin Beiber or One Direction‘s latest offerings.
On their own, Waterparks‘ songs are fun, but cannot escape comparison from their influences because they walk so closely to them. The bouncy and voluminous (like a good shampoo) song ‘Gloom Boys’ could easily be a Forever The Sickest Kids (remember them?) b-side, while later track ‘Made In America’ contains the kind of staccato, booming chorus that Patrick Stump stamped his mark on long ago.
There’s more than a touch of LMFAO in ‘Take Her To The Moon’; a track which makes you want to get on someone’s shoulders and shake your sweaty head in slow motion while an Ibiza fog machine erupts in front of you. The thing is, it’s disorienting because it’s nothing like the rest of the album.
Look, none of this is bad; if you like catchy tunes, there’s more than enough to keep you entertained, but without a game plan to rally around, the album plays like a cynical jukebox. “Hey / Tell me what you want me to say”, sings Awesten Knight on ‘Stupid For You’, as if to drive the point home.
There’s an episode of Netflix’s The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt where two characters are discussing legally safe rip-offs of famous songs, with similar tunes which can be played license-free on television. The episode closes with a rendition of Art Smelly‘s ‘I’m Convinced I Can Swim’ (R. Kelly‘s ‘I Believe I Can Fly’). Listening to Waterparks is like living in that universe, or putting on a fake Now! That’s What I Call Pop-Punk! CD you bought at a dodgy street market.
Written by Chris Yeoh (@Chris_Yeoh)