Waterparks Credit: Courtesy the Artist

If the members of infamous UK pop-rock band the 1975 had grown up in the U.S. and listened to more pop punk than emo, they’d probably sound a lot like Waterparks. The Houston three-piece have become poster boys for the sleek, sugary suburban pop-punk sound that will forever say “Warped Tour.” That style faded out of the zeitgeist a year or two before Fall Out Boy went on hiatus in 2010, which is perhaps why few outlets aside from Alternative Press (the magazine of record for the Warped tour set) have paid much attention to Waterparks. That’s too bad, because among the scores of newer bands staking out identities in pop punk, few have been as promising (or as uniquely irritating) as Waterparks. On their recent third album, October’s Fandom (Hopeless), they transform clean pop punk into massive, genre-blurring pop that couldn’t more nakedly broadcast their ambition to become stars. Chisel-cheeked front man Awsten Knight deploys his earnest enthusiasm and polished vocals—both fit for a Pete Buttigieg walk-out song—in an attempt to sell platitudes about his lifestyle as a twentysomething minor celebrity as profound truths. He somehow makes it work, though his opening lines in “Watch What Happens Next” still aren’t as clever as he wants them to be: “I wanna be a millionaire before I’m 30 / But saying that out loud is probably gonna hurt me.” Thankfully, Knight and company sometimes focus on creating simple, straightforward singles, such as the triumphant postheartbreak/pre-breakup anthem “Easy to Hate”—more of that effort, and the top spot on the Billboard 200 could soon be theirs.   v