Courtesy of AXS

After an almost year-long album roll out, alternative rock band Waterparks is back with their fifth studio album, “INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY,” their first album to make Top 40 on U.S. Billboard Charts and Top 10 on the U.K. Official Albums chart. Known for their genre-bending abilities, the band gives listeners a lot of variety within this album, with more aggressive and blunt songs that embody their punk rock past, bubbly sounding pop hits and poetic, heart-wrenching ballads. The album explores themes of religious trauma and hypersexuality, and overall it is a display of the band’s strengths in all areas. 

Frontman Awsten Knight is known to promise that he will not put out an album unless he is confident that it is the best work he has produced, which holds up in this album. While not being their most creative and imaginative piece of work, like their previous album “Greatest Hits,” the album makes up for it in other ways. “INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY” builds variety within the band’s discography while also demonstrating how they are capable of making strong tracks with more simple compositions. 

“INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY” is the shortest album that the band has put out and follows a different formula than past records. Usually, Waterparks albums range from 13 to 17 songs, with distinct intro and outro tracks and an interesting interlude track. However, “INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY” only features 11 songs, which may leave it feeling a little short and unfinished for those who prefer the longer and more in-depth albums. Despite the album’s shorter length, each song is packed with interesting instrumentals and the descriptive and poetic lyrics the band is known for, which ultimately come together to create an interesting story line.

One of the most compelling aspects of Waterparks’s albums is how they tell a story when listened to in order. “INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY” is a concept album, following a story from beginning to end. The album opens with the end of a relationship and the start of a new one in track one, “ST*RFUCKER,” then follows the deterioration of a relationship in the next 10 tracks. This aspect of the album leads to an enjoyable listening experience. 

Not only do the tracks stand out individually, but they smoothly transition into each other, creating a unique and immersive experience. The third track on the album, “FUNERAL GREY,” details the meeting of a new love interest and how Knight could feel himself become obsessed with her. The track then transitions into “BRAINWASHED” which does a great job of conveying the honeymoon phase of a relationship with lyrics such as “It’s like my brain isn’t mine, you moved into my mind,” and “The syndrome feels Stockholm.”

One of the strongest tracks on the album “RITUAL” explores the trauma that can come with growing up around organized religion and how it can affect relationships well into adult life. This song is akin to some of the other more aggressive songs in Waterparks’s discography, which are known to be fan favorites. “RITUAL” starts with a voice memo saying, “What if I want to have sex before I get married? / Well, I guess you just have to be prepared to die,” setting off the themes of both hypersexuality and religious trauma in the song, which are all-encompassing themes of the album. This song connects beautifully with the closing song “A NIGHT OUT ON EARTH,” which includes lyrics such as, “Now Jesus hates my guts, it’s gettin’ personal,” driving home his negative history with religion and how it constantly affects his daily life. 

The ending track, “A NIGHT OUT ON EARTH,” is especially interesting because Knight describes it as being almost like an encore to the album rather than the closing track. This makes sense with the transition from the penultimate song “CLOSER,” which feels like a melancholic wrap up to the album, into “A NIGHT OUT ON EARTH” that is more chaotic and noisy. The song encompasses all of the different themes discussed within the album, but it also feels like a summary of Waterparks as a whole. With lyrics about the artistic process, fan and artist relationships and religious trauma as well as multiple lyrical callbacks to different albums, this song is a full representation of the band in one song. “A NIGHT OUT ON EARTH” ends with an audio clip from the band’s first-ever radio interview, providing a nostalgic end to the album and a reminder of where they started and where they are now. 

A final distinctive aspect of “INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY” is the features on the album, most notably the track “FUCK ABOUT IT,” with a feature from musical artist blackbear. The two artists have publicly displayed a desire to work together for years, and the collaboration finally came to fruition on this album. The song combines the styles of the artists effectively despite the two coming from relatively different genres. The track “END OF THE WATER (FEEL)”  also includes a fun feature, with the voice of YouTuber Kurtis Conner coming in on the outro of the track. This is quite the amusing feature at first glance, but it actually adds a level of uniqueness to the song. 

 “INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY” may feel like a short album. But, it plays on a lot of the band’s strengths and still manages to feel very unique and different in the grand scheme of Waterparks’s discography. 

Rating: 8.75/10