Label: Fueled By Ramen
Released: 10th February 2023
Never stand still. That’s been the Paramore way for the last decade. From their self-titled fourth album – a broadening of horizons that catapulted them into new, exciting spaces – they’ve rarely been a band to look backwards or remain predictable in their music. 2017’s ‘After Laughter’ set them up as one of alternative pop’s most vibrant, empowering forces – a sparkling juxtaposition of sounds to make the feet move and lyrics to pierce the soul – but even that isn’t enough to nail them down.
The Paramore of ‘This Is Why’ is wound tighter than a guitar string. Mired in the sleazy shimmer of mid-00s indie rock, it’s a record of paranoia, anxiety and a lack of trust in the world from a band who genuinely care but aren’t scared to take their pound of flesh from those who deserve it. Its opening title track and lead single sets the stage – a refusal to leave safe surroundings for very good reasons. ‘The News’ deals with our second-hand relationship with the horrors of the world around us – “I worry and I give money, and I feel useless behind this computer”, sticking a dart in the complexities of trying to do the right thing as atrocities are beamed directly into our eye sockets 24/7.
The warm tones of ‘Big Man, Little Dignity’ are quickly cut through with shards of vengeful thoughts (“No offence, but you’ve got no integrity”), while ‘You First’ goes more directly for the throat (“Karma’s gonna come for all of us, and I just hope she comes for you first”). ‘Figure 8’ recalls the best of indie sleaze’s underground cool – like Bloc Party’s siren call guitars and Pretty Girls Make Graves’ effortless cool drawn into an even tighter, high-definition focus – but it’s the twinkling honesty of ‘Liar’ that stands out amongst the sharp edges. A slow-burning respite that cuts through the noise, full of genuinely impactful emotion, it proves that Paramore are a band that have always had it in them to emotionally lacerate at more than one speed.
Finally consolidated into a stable trio after line-up changes that have followed their output for well over a decade, every member brings something unique to the mix. From Hayley Williams’ confessional lyricism, breaking and swelling hearts often within the same verse, to Taylor York’s wild, expressive creativity that has so inspired their last few records, Zac Farro’s return to the fold continues to pin down the mast with a musical empathy that always perfectly understands the assignment. With genuine love, knowledge and appreciation of the influences they pull from, this isn’t Paramore finding a way to hop on a trending musical topic. Far from it, it’s a band who can read the zeitgeist before it truly hits, understanding why that post-millennium glamour and gritty tension might be the best tool to carve open the complex, brutal reality of an anxious new world of culture wars and unkindness. Both an evolution and a revolution true to who they are, that constant motion never fails to hit the spot.