Label: Fueled By Ramen
There is plenty to cover with this introduction. I could start by mentioning how it’s been nearly four years since Paramore released their last full length effort, Brand New Eyes. I could say that because of various momentum hits, like the Farro brothers’ departure under the most shocking and inamicable of circumstances, the Tennessee group have become but an afterthought to longtime fans. Haley Williams has even gone on as far to say that this self-titled record is a statement, one that’s not just limited externally to the world, but inwardly, to themselves as a band.
Well, to put this in perspective, in the eyes of many longtime fans, this is Paramore’s latest and most crucial make or break moment to date.
We all know that 17-track albums aren’t as common as they used to be. Most artists just aren’t given that big of a platform anymore. So in turn, the trio used just over an hour to express themselves to their fullest with touching lyrics, emotive instrumental parts, and some of the most explorative and experimental ideas to come from the band.
Before this goes any further, let it be said that to really soak this record in at its fullest, people need to toss out any expectations that you’ve previously used to describe the band, because this record downright plays with your head. Paramore isn’t the same band that they used be, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The record is still rooted in the sounds of pop-punk, pop-rock, and indie music; it’s just that most of the songs push on other boundaries as well.
Going off that point, this is the kind of record that one would imagine a pop-rock band to naturally create in a top-40 world. Yes, there are synths and drum machines, but on the other hand, there are some out-of-the-box uses of ukuleles and cowbell on tracks like “Holiday“ and “(One Of Those) Crazy Girls.” The band is down to one dedicated guitarist, so at most, you’re hearing two simultaneous guitar tracks at a time. Rest assured that there’s no dubstep on Paramore.
Hayley Williams has never been on top of her vocal game as she is now. Her range is absolutely ridiculous, and while every single song on the album isn’t some kind of an endless competition to outdo herself, it’s actually a chance for her to showcase something different from her repertoire. On tracks like “Ain’t It Fun” (which on a side note, uses a church choir in a way that’s somewhat reminiscent of Natasha Beddingfield’s “Unwritten”) Williams uses these crazy vocalizations, on the album’s lead single, “Now,” Williams’ pitch hops around between high’s and low’s on the chorus’ “now’s”. Even the highs on the bridge of “Still Into You” reach unexpected levels.
Lyrically, some of these songs reach new depths for the band. “The Last Hope” is a good example of that, with hopeful lyrics like “the salt in my wounds isn’t burning any more than it used to, it’s not that I don’t feel the pain, it’s just that I’m not afraid of hurting anymore.” However, on the other end of the spectrum there are still other songs like the already mentioned “Still Into You” and the rough, feedback-laced “Anklebiters” that show that the band has still held onto some aspects of their old innocent and simple days.
“Future” is placed as the last track of the record and spends 7 whole minutes to go from being this simple, calming tune until midway through, where it dramatically transforms itself into this heavy, atmospheric, post-metal like closer of a song that may possibly be the seen as the biggest “wait, just who am I listening to right now?” moment on the record.
Paramore will likely go down in the books as this massive combination of all of these different sounds that wouldn’t make sense for any band to attempt within the confines of one album, but that’s alright. Sometimes attempts like this simply need to be done, because self-titled albums are a crucial opportunity for a band to show just what they’re made of.
Pressure makes diamonds, and Paramore is a great example of that sentiment.
Reviewed by: Adrian Garza (Twitter)