Paramore’s Latest Reinvention Is An Anxious Murmur

Since the release of Paramore’s debut album in 2005 All we know is fallingThe band has gone through a line-up change for every single record through 2017 After the laugh, and never for particularly benign reasons. There were splits within the band, lawsuits and accusations of creative tyranny. Paramore survived all of this. This is the most stable period in Paramore’s turbulent history, but you wouldn’t know it by hear This is the reason.

That’s because Paramore is always changing, even if the members aren’t. This is the reason is the first to retain the same line-up as the previous release, a line-up that includes consistent mainstay vocalist Hayley Williams, guitarist Taylor York and drummer Zac Farro (who had previously left the band in 2010 before returning After the laugh). The band’s sound has changed over the years: from emo to pop-punk to alternative to power-pop and finally to synth-pop from After the laugh. Rather than sticking with what works, Paramore is always on the lookout for a new sound, but the radical departure on his sixth album is unprecedented. At This is the reason, the band tries out post-punk. The result is a fear-ridden release that loses some of what sets Paramore apart.

It’s possible that the band would have released a new album much earlier had it not been for the pandemic; The six-year gap between records is the longest in the band’s history. This is the reason would also be different; After all, the title track, which was released as the lead single back in September, is about not stepping out into a world almost indistinguishable from what came before. “This/is why/I do not leave the house/You say the coast is clear/but you won’t catch me out,” Williams sings to shaky guitars and marching drums.

There’s a rawness to the sound here not seen since the 2009 album brand new eyes. If Paramore didn’t have a long history as a band, I would be excused to think so This is the reason feels like a bloc party album with a new singer. In particular, Paramore influenced the British band’s 2005 release silent alarm. For a certain kind of teenager, this album was perfection at the time: filled with fears about the state of the world after 9/11, sung through beautiful melodies and singer Kele Okereke’s soothing voice and rousing screams, equal parts.

I was that special brand of teenager just like Williams. The driving guitars are present in most This is the reason aren’t quite as harsh as those on “Helicopter,” but they’re reminiscent of both “Banquet” and “The Pioneers,” two other mega-hits they spawned from silent alarm. Lyrically, its touch on current events is similar to that of Bush-era Bloc Party media howl “Hunting For Witches” of 2007 A weekend in the citywhich can be grouped with silent alarm as the first era of this band’s sound.

But This is the reason isn’t just Bloc Party pastiche, even if the band decided to take the Brits on tour this year to promote the album. What has always set Paramore apart from the many bands of the era is Williams, especially her voice. This is the reason Borrowings from her 2020 solo album Armor Petals, both in their cadence and in their thematic concerns. The title track is a full band version of the home anthem “Cinnamon” off their album, and although there’s nothing quite as danceable as “Sugar On The Rim”. This is the reason, it has similar kinetic energy, especially in the back half. For Williams, the songwriter, concern about the state of the world leads to rapid introspection mixed with outward blasts of energy.

However, Williams, the singer, is disappointed with her own lyrics – she has been the main songwriter for Paramore throughout her career, although all the songs are on This is the reason are attributed to the trio as a whole – and the controversial decision to set aside their singing talents. Previous albums have given her plenty of room to show her voice, but the latest release cements her range in favor of talk-singing verse on “C’est Comme Ça” or the similarly monotonous bridge on “The News”.

It’s an odd choice that these two songs were chosen as the lead singles along with “This Is Why”. They’re among the weakest songs on the album because they commit the deadly sin of a Current Events song: They’re lyrically shallow and don’t have Williams’ powerful voice to compensate. The bridge on “The News” is reminiscent of a song by the Canadian band Braids, whose song “Snow Angel” employed a similar gimmick for an expanded introspection of the world we live in, whatever that means. Musicians have been singing about us-versus-them conflicts for as long as music has existed, so Paramore isn’t breaking new ground here by urging people to “turn off the news.”

Moving on from the lyrics to the musical compositions This is the reason, but Paramore’s true intent is most evident on this album, and that comes from Taylor York. The band never put together better songs-than-songs than here, even when the vocals and lyrics falter: “The News” may be a blunt instrument lyrically, but sonically it’s all jagged edges and peaks. If Paramore has been considered Williams’ band for so many years, York uses This is the reason to assert its own claim as the band’s finest creative force.

The album is most consistent when York is in the spotlight. The confusing opening riff on “You First” gives way to an honest chorus before returning for the verses that follow. Similarly well constructed is the looping introduction to “Figure 8”, which avoids the chunkier guitar chords around the chorus while also laying the groundwork for a song about repeating past mistakes. The album ending “Thick Skull” is more like Williams’ solo offshoot Flowers for vases / descansosa collection of slower and insular tracks that didn’t fit in Armor Petalsthan anything the band has recorded before, and it’s carried by the smooth guitar work of York, who has always felt like Paramore’s secret weapon.

In the album’s penultimate song, Paramore really finds a way to merge his past with his future. The second half of This is the reason is stronger than the first, and “Crave” is among the very best songs Paramore has ever made, in every incarnation. The trio is in full force here: York employs guitars reminiscent of indie shoegazer Real Estate and conjures up a dazed soundscape over which Williams weaves a tale of longing and finally pops her voice in the chorus. Farro’s drumming is great throughout the album, so it’s no surprise that he hits the song with the power she craves as Williams begins her chorus vocal runs. The song feels like the logical progression of the two softer parts After the laugh and the regret of Armor Petalsinterspersed with Williams’ best vocals on the album:

The rest of the album doesn’t quite reach those heights. This is the reason is an experiment and this band has earned the right to do so after so much drama in their earlier years. It’s always going to be difficult to make something timeless that feels so grounded in the specific moment of its creation. But it’s frustrating to see they still have the ability to fireball like “Crave,” only to surround it with a misconception about what makes most of their songs just as good. Often a band has a lot to say, but further This is the reasonParamore seems to have only one way of saying it.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *