It’s been four years since Paramore’s last release, and for a diehard fan like me, it has felt like an eternity. I watched my favorite band teeter on the edge of breaking up when two founding members (Josh and Zac Farro) very publicly parted ways with Hayley Williams, and Paramore retreated out of the limelight. The band’s fourth release, the appropriately self-titled Paramore, is finally out tomorrow, and rather than working from the blueprint of pop punk as they’ve done in the past, Paramore is building from scratch and using rock music as their foundation.
Paramore is a seventeen-track sampling of every rock genre under the sun as Paramore deftly experiments with musical styles we’ve never heard from them before. Although the debut single “Now” had fans believing we’d hear a heavier, grunge rock-oriented sound, Paramore refuses to be limited by one genre. The neatly packaged, three-minute pop punk songs that propelled Paramore to fame (“Misery Business.” “Crushcrushcrush,” “Ignorance”) are few and far between on this album as the band oscillates from 1960s throwback love tunes to funk-infused gospel pop songs.
Paramore opens with the upbeat “Fast In My Car” as Williams declares, “Been through the ringer a couple times,” a sentiment that is echoed repeatedly throughout the album. Paramore has walked through the fire, but rather than burning to ashes, they’ve emerged more confident and courageous than before. Drummer Ilan Rubin’s (Angels And Airwaves, Nine Inch Nails) driving beats power this song as well as the punk-infused “Anklebiters.” Paramore dips their toes into pop as well with the perfectly crafted, sugary sweet “Still Into You.”
“Proof” and “Be Alone” will satisfy longtime Paramore fans itching for those shorter, punk-rock anthems as Williams’ powerful vocals delve into the arena of relationships. “Last Hope” may have cliché lyrics (“It’s just a spark but it’s enough to keep me going”), but the hook and slow build are so good, all is forgiven.
“Ain’t It Fun” is the undeniable standout track on this album, not only because it is the most catchy, musically diverse song on the album (’90s gospel funk anyone?), but also because it’s delivered by a band that has never experimented with such elements before. The infectious chorus (“Ain’t it fun living in the real world?”) and third verse hook (“Don’t go crying to your mamma, cause you’re on your own in the real world”) is a fun breath of fresh air from Paramore, and Williams’ vocal versatility is on display.
“(One Of Those) Crazy Girls” opens like an golden oldie as Williams croons about being a stalker girlfriend, and the chorus’ musical progression is wonderfully unique. Closer “Future” starts as a standard acoustic punk pop song and builds into a churning explosion of guitar reverb and a burning jam session. It’ll no doubt make its way into their live performances.
The album does run a tad too long, clocking in at 64 minutes, and some songs would have served better as B-sides. “Part II,” the sequel to “Let The Flames Begin,” and the slow-moving “Hate To See Your Heartbreak” don’t live up to the rest of the record. On first listen, the Zooey Deschanel-reminiscent ukulele interludes are fun additions and sweet sendoffs to the drama of the past three years, but they are too short to build enough to make my playlists.
Paramore should be applauded for releasing such a musically diverse album, particularly after barely holding themselves together for three years. Paramore is a bit unfocused, but there is something for everyone on this album, and it will certainly carry Paramore back to the top of rock music.
Paramore Tour Dates:
04/25 – Houston, TX – Bayou Music Center
04/29 – Phoenix, AZ – Comerica Theatre
05/01 – Los Angeles, CA – Wiltern Theatre
05/03 – Las Vegas, NV – The Joint
05/04 – San Francisco, CA – Warfield Theatre
05/06 – Salt Lake City, UT – The Great Salt Air
05/07 – Denver, CO – The Fillmore Auditorium
05/09 – Chicago, IL – Chicago Theatre
05/10 – Detroit, MI – The Fillmore Detroit
05/13 – Toronto, ON – Sound Academy
05/15 – Boston, MA – House of Blues Boston
05/16 – New York, NY – Hammerstein Ballroom
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