Over the space of their last couple of albums, Paramore became far more than just pop punk scene leaders – not that they ever truly fit in any identikit box of genre tropes and conformism, obviously. From their self-titled fourth album forwards, they’ve been something bigger. More inventive. A band leading from the front, switching to where their spirit and instincts drove them.
Previous album ‘After Laugher’ was a high point. An album full of smart influences and brilliant juxtaposition, it encapsulated pop culture and the modern condition better than any peers dared. So often a brave, smiling face on far deeper thoughts, it did it all with a cutting, day-glo tone that drew anxious energy away from the pity party and towards something brighter and more addictive.
‘This Is Why’, the first taster of Paramore’s sixth album of the same name, is another hard swerve left in the best possible way. Starting with a lyrical flow that recalls Hayley Williams’ recent solo material, it quickly descends into a tense, taut chorus that sounds both frustrated and fraught with ‘the state of things’. “If you have an opinion maybe you should shove it! Or maybe you should scream it! Might be best to keep it to yourself,” Williams challenges. Those pre-stated influences for the full-length to follow are there – the stabbing shards of Bloc Party sit just as proud as promised, their trademark elastic post-punk riffs clear and present in the mix. There’s the intoxicating glamour of mid-00s indie sleaze at its finest, pushed through a more dynamic, vibrant filter.
Following their own compass in the way all the best bands do, Hayley, Taylor and Zac remain a band far more important to a dedicated, determined fanbase than words can do justice. This is a new Paramore, but a Paramore at the height of their powers.