Tennessee trio storms back with fresh album after long wait
IF LONGTIME FANS OF PARAMORE were hoping for them to make an album that harked back to their pop-punk days, then prepare for disappointment. But what Paramore did make is just as exciting: music for the burnt-out Millennial.
The Franklin, TN, trio formed almost two decades ago and cemented their place as a mainstay in the pop-punk scene with the release of their sophomore album Riot! — released in 2007. With This Is Why, they continue their foray into new musical territory but maintain the raw emotional power that first shot them to stardom.
Paramore’s transition away from pop-punk began with their 2017 album, After Laughter, a collection of depression songs that anyone could relate to. Hayley Williams — the band’s resilient frontwoman, primary songwriter and keyboardist — keeps it going with the tracks on This Is Why. It’s hard to be a functional human, especially after the last three years, and Paramore knows that.
This album is a cohesive post-punk offering of someone who’s fed up with the menial slog of existence. The front half of the album is loaded with anthemic jams that are catchy as hell; the jams on the back half feel more personal — like you’re peeking inside Williams’s diary. The most obvious example is Liar, an ode to a significant other backed by the dreamiest reverb-heavy riff.
The band mentioned in the press that Bloc Party and Foals were a big inspiration for the sound on the album, and they weren’t lying. The tracks on This Is Why mix driving and urgent bass with zingy and distorted guitar riffs. Williams’s frustrated but matter-of-fact vocals deliver biting truths that cut deep.
On the drum-lead and trebly guitar-filled third single C’est Comme Ca, the verse opens with what we all felt during the pandemic: “In a single year, I’ve aged 100 / My social life, a chiropractic appointment.” The monotone verses balance out the shouty chorus.
Williams is petty on snare-heavy You First. The guitars feel disjointed as they come closest to their pop-punk roots. She’s not as petty as on 2007’s Misery Business (pop-punk’s favourite revenge anthem), but she declares that everyone sucks. Maybe you suck a little less than the tech bro next door, so karma will get him first, but we all better watch out.
Running Out of Time is head-boppy with one of the catchiest choruses on the album. The song’s laidback bass line slows the pacing, contradicting its title. William’s witty lyrics send a message that invokes unwarranted guilt: people don’t care about your good intentions. If you don’t act on them, you’re a selfish person.
Even though this is the first new music Paramore has released in almost six years, they’ve proved they’re not out of new musical avenues, and they’re definitely not out of touch with the reality of how shitty life is. This Is Why is the most relatable album of their career, and it might just be what we need to feel better about not bringing our A-game in a world that seems to constantly beat us down.
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