Album Review: Paramore, Paramore (self-titled)

In what seemed a snap-exit for fans, 2010 saw the demise of punk-rock American band Paramore as we originally knew it. Co-founding members Josh and Zac Farro, the band’s guitarist and drummer respectively, left the five-part ensemble after what was actually a long-time-coming and reportedly bitter decision. The brothers claimed the band was the “manufactured product of a major label” in a disgruntled blog post, which also accused lead singer Hayley Williams of using the band for solo ambitions and being the only member signed to Atlantic Records.Squabbles aside, Williams, remaining guitarist Taylor York and bassist Jeremy Davis, not intent on disbanding, have released their fourth studio album, self-titled and almost four years in the making.The Paramore record got off to a shaky start according to Williams in a recent Rolling Stone interview:“When everything sort of started falling to pieces between Brand New Eyes and making this album, there were definitely days I would wake up and think it would be so easy to put up some sort of letter saying it’s just too hard…”  Fortunately for long-term devotees, the group — after apparently finding new musings and borrowing Nine Inch Nails drummer Ilan Rubin — have produced tracks a little more poppy and dance-infused than previous records, while simultaneously only baby steps away from their initial belligerent and introspective sound.Opening track “Fast In My Car” eases listeners in with a familiar underlying drumbeat, synonymous with Paramore songs. The difference: less solemn vocals and a dance feel bordering power pop, which trails into “Now”, the first single release from the album. Falling also under the pop-rock banner, it is most characteristic of the band’s early punk sound. Interesting then they should cherry-pick it as the initial representation of their new-look band; although its catchy hook makes it hard to forget: “If there’s a future we want it, now-ow-ow-ow-ow-ow-ow-ow.”“Be Alone” is executed in a similar vein to “Now” and both can be likened to “Misery Business”, the hit that broke them into the industry internationally from their second album Riot! The latter two, both considered rebel anthems, have strong lyrics about personal image, relationships and the future.A more uplifting beat and quicker tempo can be found in “Grow Up” and “Still Into You”—the second single release from Paramore memorable for its neon-hued music video. It’s definitely a step away from darker portrayals like “The Only Exception” — though equally copious in radio play and mainstream acceptance — and other tracks on Brand New Eyes.“Last Hope” and “Daydreaming” in particular are a little more balladry and lyrically mature than anything the band has curated before, and while “Part II” starts on a soft note, it’s not long before it breaks into a heavier guitar and bass overlay, reminiscent at times of Evanescence. Generous solos also give York and Davis a moment of glory.Three roughly one-minute interludes discreetly take a stab at former bandmates. With Williams’ voice subdued in tone and accompanied by a ukulele, lines such as “Let ‘em rise and rise/‘cause one day they’re gonna fall” and “I’m not angry anymore/well, sometimes I am” slip through the upbeat tracks as innocent, and they might be, but they’re ambiguous enough to allude to the Farro brothers.  Ending the collection on “Future” is a look into just that. The almost eight-minute track is experimental for Paramore and a departure from their typical sound. Its combination of gentle guitar riffs and furious hard rock perfectly summates the album and its core sentiment of growing up and moving on. In terms of variety, this latest LP is their best to date, comprising genres of pop, rock, punk, dance, synth and even a touch of country in “Hate To See Your Heart Break”. Songs evolve as the track list progresses, and a certain honesty can be attributed to Williams’ lyric and the disturbingly pure Jessica Buccolieri

May 23rd 2013
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