By Ella Woszczyk, Second Year English
I, like most lovers of the 2000s bands, approach a new album release with slight concern. If we use Arctic Monkeys’ Tranquillity Base Hotel & Casino (2018) as an example, though Turner is evidently still an amazing lyricist, much of the Northern band’s original rocker personality is masked by a slower pace and heavy orchestra.
Thankfully, a six year hiatus did not go amiss. Paramore’s This is Why triumphs in both growth and revival.
Amidst the pre-released singles of Paramore’s 2023 album, the catchy yet overly repetitive chorus of ‘C’est Comme Ca’ is redeemed by the song’s sharp reflections on ageing: ‘I hate to admit getting better is boring / But the high cost of chaos, who can afford it?’ Both witty and sardonic, self-scrutiny defines many of the tracks on this album, with these particular lyrics drawing attention to the weariness that often accompanies the journey from teenager to middle-aged.
As a band renowned for their pioneering contributions to punk and emo music, teenage angst empowers much of Paramore’s earlier material, distinctly Riot! (2007) and Brand New Eyes (2009).
‘The News’, the loudest and most high energy song on the recent album, shows Paramore passionately navigating their maturity by redirecting their frustrations towards contemporary concerns. The world has changed irreversibly in the six years it took to release This is Why and this change has not gone overlooked. ‘Shut your eyes, but it won’t go away / Turn on, turn off the news’ concludes the chorus in its scathing assessment of digital media.
Recalling the COVID years where nearly all of us were trapped behind computer screens and met almost exclusively with bad news, ‘The News’ potently translates this unifying and unresolved outrage. Spiky guitar riffs, coupled with rapid and discordant drumming fall risk to sounding disorderly, and yet the combination gives the music a unique sound reminiscent of alternative rock.
As primary song writer and lead vocalist, Hayley Williams’ vocal control is something of legend. She masterfully switches between gentler tones to the powerful high notes that make Paramore’s sound so distinctive. The ballads ‘Liar’ and ‘Crave’, demonstrate (though not exclusively) Williams utilising her pitch range to create a beautifully haunting and ethereal tone to compliment her poetry.
In habit of saving the best for last, I’d like to signpost readers to two songs in particular. Centre stage, ‘Big Man, Little Dignity’ should satisfy all of your cynical needs in its ironic and feminist criticism of a ‘smooth operator in a shit-stained suit’. The album’s final track, however, turns listeners down a different route in what may be a gesture towards the band’s future. ‘Thick Skull’, opens with soft, whispering acoustics, before a bracing crescendo of introspection: ‘Thick skull never did (Nothing for me) / Same lesson again?’
Commemorating the band’s honesty, this concluding track feels like an emotive bridge between past and present. Though maturity and age have brought wisdom, growth is not linear and cycles of mistakes seem only inevitable.
Conserving the sound that solidified their success, Paramore presents how to reflect upon life’s natural changes, without losing sight of your origin. Refreshed and re-evaluated, This is Why is a stunning comeback.
Featured Image: Atlantic Records
Have you listened to This Is Why?