Paramore, ‘Paramore’ – Album Review
It’s been a dramatic few years for Paramore. After the exits of founding members Josh and Zac Farro, frontwoman Hayley Williams is apparently mad as hell. From the sounds of the lyrics of ‘Paramore,’ the entire record — coldly and deliberately self-titled — is a giant middle finger to her former bandmates, because apparently everything in the world was their faults. Ouch.
It’s worth noting that Williams was, in fact, the only member of Paramore ever signed to Atlantic Records — and that the band were essentially her backup musicians to what was a strategically marketed solo effort disguised as a band: Think ‘Dreamgirls’ with pop punk and bangs instead of bouffants.
Regardless of what went down, Williams and Co. have effectively just made another Paramore record. It’s catchy, it’s fun and it sounds like a lot of their previous material, just repackaged — except with the additions of ukulele and acoustic-based interludes in which Williams smugly boasts of how glorious her life is without negative influences in it. You can’t help but wonder who she’s talking about.
In the meantime? Put on your headphones, doodle stars on your wrists and gear up to travel back in time to the period between 2007 and 2010 — because while the lineup of Paramore may have changed, not much else has. And that’s not necessarily a terrible thing.
1. ‘Fast in My Car’
In the opening track, Williams sings, “We’ve got our riot gear on / But we just want to have fun.” While it’s unclear whether she was being literal, one can easily read into this as referencing the band’s breakthrough record — especially since it sounds like it would have fit within it seamlessly.
Paramore’s current single is one about resilience and mutiny. “I thought that we could brave it all / I never thought that what would take me out / Was hiding down below,” William howls. She may stutter in the hook, but make no mistake: She believes everything she’s singing.
3. ‘Grow Up’
“I left town with a dime to my name / Said I’m done with all of my fake friends,” Williams sneers. “Self-righteous pawns in a losing game / Got my band and a light that won’t go out / Been burning since the day I was born / So I cried just a little then I dried my eyes / ‘Cause I’m not a little girl no more.” You hear that? She’s got her band. Her band. Not those immature people she left behind.
Easily one of the catchiest tracks Paramore — in any incarnation — have ever released. The hook, which is simply just “Daydreaming / Daydreaming all the time” ad nauseam, is indelible and absolutely made for radio.
5. ‘Interlude: Moving On’
Accompanied by little more than a ukulele, Williams wants us all to know that she’s angry, but she’s like, totes above it. So she keeps singing about it. Because she’s over it. You know she’s over it, right? Oh, wait.
6. ‘Ain’t It Fun’
In what sounds like it could be a ’90s club jam, Williams mocks immature people, singing, “Don’t go crying / To your mama.” Also, um, there’s a gospel choir. It’s baffling, but it’s somehow beautiful.
7. ‘Part II’
Paramore go more the way of ‘Decode’ on ‘Part II’ — there’s less pop sensibility and more distortion and noise. It lacks a real melody, but it’s also sort of a refreshing change from all of the calculated safe tracks prior on the record.
8. ‘Last Hope’
Paramore soften on ‘Last Hope,’ with Williams singing, “Gotta let it happen.” She’s not forcing anything, least of all a manufactured hook, but the band still manages to get stuck in your head.
9. ‘Still Into You’
An adorable ode to Williams’ longtime boyfriend, New Found Glory member Chad Gilbert is a pure pop confection. “It’s not a walk in the park / To love each other / But when our fingers interlock / Can’t deny, can’t deny you’re worth it / ‘Cause after all this time, I’m still into you.” C’mon, it doesn’t get much cuter than that, does it?
One of the most immediately rollicking and uptempo tracks on ‘Paramore,’ ‘Anklebiters’ is pop punk at its finest. Get ready to pogo and shout along with the gang vocals. Don’t try resisting!
11. ‘Interlude: Holiday’
Anoter ukulele ad lib about “graduating” from high school drama. It’s cute, but it’s superfluous — and it just makes you miss actual songs.
Paramore examine the trials and tribulations of a long distance relationship and the difficulties of maintaining a romance on the road. With an arena-ready chorus and head-nodding verses, ‘Proof’ is evidence in itself that Paramore and Williams are capable of a lot more than being bratty.
13. ‘Hate to See Your Heart Break’
The band slows down and delivers a near-lullaby on ‘Hate to See Your Heart Break.’ Williams’ vocals can sometimes sound flat in lower registers, but it’s still a great glimpse at what the group are capable of when they put down the 5-Hour Energy and show some vulnerability.
14. ‘(One Of Those) Crazy Girls’
Williams sings in character as a girl who just can’t accept that a relationship is over. Denial sounds lovely on her, however, as the midtempo track is a great example of lyrical storytelling. Interestingly, Williams is pals with Taylor Swift. Just throwing that out there.
15. ‘Interlude: I’m Not Angry Anymore’
Another ukulele song about how Williams isn’t angry anymore. The lady doth protest too much.
16. ‘Be Alone’
Refreshingly heavier than its preceding pointless interlude, but still confused as to which direction it wants to take, ‘Be Alone’ lacks the definitive melodies of the rest of the album. Even a “whoa-oh-oh-oh” doesn’t sound quite catchy, though the keyboard touches do add a polished sheen.
‘Future’ is over eight minutes long and opens with the band talking to one another. The song, while lovely to listen to, represents a lot of what’s frustrating about Paramore: It’s a seemingly contrived moment designed to look organic. It’s a meaningful, stately, if overlong and overwrought closer and sums up what we hope is true: “We don’t talk about the past / We’re writing the future.” Great. Now maybe the next Paramore album won’t focus so much on the past … and perhaps won’t be stuck in it, either.
Watch the Paramore ‘Now’ Video