Paramore is back with their sixth studio album and it’s anxiously fantastic. It’s been six years since their last album, and the band has restarted their long-held ritual of pre-touring, releasing an album, and post-touring. Their new album “This Is Why” was met with extreme anticipation from fans because of the band’s more recent tendency to switch genres of music. This anticipation has led to an allotment of mixed reviews, however, the general consensus is mostly positive.
For those who don’t know, Paramore is a band with a lot of history in the alternative rock and pop-punk scene, creating records on and off since 2005. Paramore is a band who has been known to alter the sound they cultivate, but fans have been quick to shut down anything that doesn’t entirely follow the sound that was created with their second studio album “Riot!” (2007). They have an ever-changing lineup, with the only consistency being lead singer Hayley Williams, and (since the second album) guitarist Taylor York.
The title track and first single off the album,“This Is Why,” seems to be the catalyst for the mixed opinions from fans. Many fans loved the agoraphobic and hyperactive single, though other fans heard a departure from Paramore’s ‘signature sound’ and started waving red flags. Even if there is a clear deviation from the quintessential sound, the roots of the band are ever present, and the track sets up a great start for the beginning of the album. The song is energetic with a hint of stressful annoyance. It perfectly encapsulated the central energy of the album.
Continuing that feeling of stress, the second track “The News” is a hyper-nervous high-energy track that encapsulates the feeling of hopelessness and fear while absorbing constant media. This track had a much more positive fan reaction because people felt it harkened back to the sound Paramore got known for in the early 2000s , however, the somewhat heavier sound isn’t what makes this song work. This song is the perfect embodiment of that post-news anxiety, and this ability to fully capture emotion is the better part of what makes Paramore great.
In “Big Man, Little Dignity,” the fifth track of “This Is Why,” the listener is presented with a softer, more soothing tone. This song also fulfills the classic Paramore tradition of having a breakup song on every album. Once again, by continuing their ritual practices but developing on them as the band has matured, this track is exemplary of what “This Is Why” represents for the whole of Paramore. A slightly shifted sound with ideas that have been expanding sinceParamore’s first album, “All We Know,” in 2005.
The latter half of “This is Why” is somewhat slower but somehow more captivating. The eighth track “Figure 8” was completely mesmerizing with an instant familiarity but a certain unexplainable feeling that felt transformative. While the early tracks can feel venomous and punchy, the latter half creates a wistful, more serious tone that embodies the same feelings.
The entirety of the album has a more refined take on the same ideas paramore has focused on in their previous records, but with the central theme of pandemic-fueled-fury and the consequences of self-enlightenment. Though these ideas aren’t entirely new for the band, the setting of a post-pandemic world along with their more mature viewpoint creates an energetic yet somber sound that is completely new.
The mixed reviews surrounding the album, and in particular the singles, have clouded online spaces encompassing the band. This online debate amongst the fans has created a conversation that the band clearly considered before even releasing their first single, as the opening lyrics to that single are “If you have an opinion/ Maybe you should shove it” which is seemingly responding to the backlash before it even started. This backlash has been a consistent conversation after the band’s fifth album “After Laughter” (2017) which was the first to completely comprehensively change the sound of the band instead of the more natural evolution of albums before it.
Certain fans have created a strong bond with the sound of Paramore’s “Riot!” album and have decided that anything that strays from that sound isn’t what Paramore is, or is simply not as good as that sound. While it’s understandable that fans would have a favorable opinion of one of Paramore’s albums over another, these fans have created a narrative that the band should only try to recapture their sound from “Riot!” and anything else would be less than. This idea completely shuts down the development and refinery of the band’s later work that makes this newest album so special. Paramore could not have released an album like “This Is Why” without deviating from their “Riot!” sound or spending years experimenting with their sound in general. The fans who deny the band their support for non-”Riot!” sounding albums are choosing to ignore the growth the band has experienced in the 16 years since “Riot!” was released.
“This Is Why” is an exemplary album for the band. Paramore has found their sweet spot in terms of altering their sound and developing on previous sounds, and this album is no exception. Altogether it’s an excellent record with very little to be improved upon, and it showcases the wonder that is Paramore.
Album rating: 9/10