Lovers Lane
Copernicus Center

Spins: Paramore • This Is Why

| March 2, 2023


This Is Why


After a nearly 6 year hiatus, Paramore is back with a vengeance, and their new album This Is Why is proof that time apart makes the musical heart grow fonder. Joining its neo-pop predecessor After Laughter in solidifying Paramore’s golden trio — Zac Farro on drums, Taylor York on guitar, and the iconic Hayley Williams on vocals — Paramore is not only back, but they’re stronger than ever. Lyrics from “You First” reminds us of where Paramore has been after all this time. “Thought I’d simmer down as I got older, can’t shake the devil sitting on my shoulder;” a nod to Williams’ 2020 single “Simmer” carries us right back to the band’s roots. Dynamic and evocative, this album is seething with rage in adjusting – or not adjusting – to the world as it reemerges post-pandemic. Our anger never disappears; it only evolves, just like Paramore.

In perfect combination, This Is Why takes on the lyrical exploration of Williams’ 2021 solo album Flowers for Vases in tandem with the angsty rock production of Paramore’s 2009 album Brand New Eyes. Still, This is Why stands solidly on its own two feet. The title track and lead single, “This is Why,” opens with a soulful punch, reminding us that they haven’t completely abandoned the infectious groove and dance-pop elements adopted nearly 10 years ago. A strong opener that doesn’t give away too much of the remaining tracklist, we are revealed to impeccable production and musicianship. Despite their ever-transforming sound, it’s clear they aren’t strangers to the game.

A lot has happened since we last heard from Paramore, and the pandemic isn’t where it ends. 2020’s Petals for Armor tapped into a new side of Williams following her 2017 divorce from New Found Glory guitarist Chad Gilbert. More vulnerable than her past work in Paramore, Williams’ entering her thirties while exploring herself as an individual set up a perfect storm for “Big Man, Little Dignity.” A voice as demanding as Williams’ deserves production to match, and her two friends know this very well. With classic biting, tongue-in-cheek lyricism, this standout track is a true testament to Hayley Williams as an artist. Paramore is no secret to exploring anger, but “Big Man, Little Dignity” masquerades this fury with femininity. Bookended with soft woodwinds and a leading flute, the track opens delicately juxtaposed, quietly nestled between the guitar-heavy “C’est Comme Ça” and “You First.” The anger only seeps through in strategic vocal tics and rasp, only to be immediately cooled off again. Smooth and palatable, this track is the quintessence of female rage without blatant commentary, just as reserved as the outrage it thematically follows. Although seemingly polite, this track is the album’s most indignant.

Where the new album marginally falls short is its cohesion – a far cry from the joyful sorrow of 2017’s After Laughter. The band themselves seems to have acknowledged this in an Instagram post on the multitude of themes being explored. After six years apart, Paramore seems to be playing explorative catch-up. Even with connecting elements of anxiety and vengeance, the jagged edges of each motif don’t always connect to the next, especially in the tonal shift between the A and B sides. Falling short doesn’t just end in metaphor either: with only ten songs within a modest 36 minutes, this album might have more in common with “Running Out of Time” than it cares to admit.

For a band whose outstanding longevity is unique, “The News” makes it hard to avoid the obvious: this is a band made up of millennials. Although well-meaning and deftly produced, this track’s political charge is almost overdone —at least for this Gen Z ear. It’s not enough to leave a bad taste in your mouth, but it is definitely a weaker track when sandwiched between “This is Why” and “Running out of Time,” both of which are sonically and lyrically stronger representations for young adults grappling with the modern world. “The News” is to This Is Why as “The Man” is to Taylor Swift’s Lover; not an objectively bad song, but it does make you grit your teeth a little in its comparatively generic approach to social issues. With a discography consisting of typically omnipresent themes, “The News” is a bit of a weak spot for Paramore’s generationally expanding audience. Even so, this album is impeccably strong, and its millennial lens is more often a commentarial asset than a hindrance.

Even under the microscope, Paramore never fails to deliver. Although a gentler, more refined callback to their pop-punk days, This Is Why is far from regressive. With “a certain degree of disorder,” Paramore has been the voice of a generation for nearly two decades, and for good reason. A new album only strengthens their legacy, bringing our favorite angsty teens along with us into adulthood. Paramore isn’t going anywhere, nor would we want them to.

-Riley Vernon

Rating: 9 of 10

Tags: , , , ,

Category: Featured, Spins

About the Author ()

Comments are closed.