When Awsten Knight revealed on Twitter in spring that he had deleted all of the files for Waterparks’ third record earlier this year, you could have been forgiven for worrying about difficult third albums and what would happen next. Wasting no time in turning around another breakneck recording session, rarely has the push of a big red button been so well rewarded, as the resulting ‘FANDOM’ marks the Texans’ best work yet.
Skipping through genre and mood from track to track, it is as turbulent and confused as you would expect from a record that is largely built around a relationship break-up. But breakdowns loom large too, with ‘FANDOM’ equally taking place in the middle of toxic fan culture, no more so than on early single ‘Watch What Happens Next’, Awsten railing at a scene that loves to see things stay just how they’ve always been. For Waterparks though, genre is just a vehicle rather than a cage. ‘Dream Boy’ is shiny and almost giddy with excitement, while ‘Easy To Hate’ shows a band that have mastered the pop trick of smuggling in sadness and darkness inside the catchiest of melodies.
Bittersweet at points, raging at others, Awsten’s previous love of metaphors has been discarded in favour of brutal honesty. Album standout ‘Turbulent’ captures that sense of bitterness and betrayal as he spits “I’d unfuck you if I could” over a blitz of drum and bass beats, while ‘Worst’ shines a light on the anxiety and depression that has continued to stalk him. Keeping the listener on their toes throughout, ‘FANDOM’ is a record of extreme highs and lows. Edgy, exciting, another nail in the coffin of boring genre restraints, this is one album that won’t be getting deleted any time soon.