Paramore Pushes Boundaries With Self-Titled Release

Paramore's new Album

Paramore’s new Album

Jamie Ferguson

Paramore's new Album
Paramore’s new album defies pop-rock genre.

After the messy departure of Josh and Zac Farro in December 2010, the future of Paramore was unclear. However, with the release of this spring’s Paramore, the trio proves that they are officially here to stay. Slimmed down to just vocalist Hayley Williams, bassist Jeremy Davis, and guitarist Taylor York, the new lineup suggests that bigger is not always better, as their releases after the Farro brothers left have been some of the best content they have ever produced.

The album opens with the industrial “Fast In My Car” that is a clear indication that Paramore is going to be nothing like anything the band has ever done. One of the most difficult transitions that bands are forced to make is finding the perfect balance of a sound different enough from previous albums to set it apart, but not a day-and-night change that will alienate fans. “Fast In My Car” delivers, with a big, catchy chorus on par with the classic Paramore sound while still initiating their exodus from the classic pop-rock sound that infused their previous three albums. The first single “Now” follows, a distorted track chronicling a demand for the future. Surprisingly, despite the Farro brothers’ bitter exit in the recent past, the album does not focus on the split, and instead, proves that Williams, York, and Davis are done being bitter, and have their present set on redefining their future.

Future seems to be the theme of the album—in fact, the final song in the album is appropriately titled “Future,” and is a nearly eight minute long track that begins with a quiet guitar and ends with a lyric-less five minutes that proves the understated talent of bassist Jeremy Davis and guitarist Taylor York. The three ukulele-driven interludes scattered across the album (“Moving On,” “Holiday,” and “I’m Not Angry Anymore”) chronicle keeping your chin up through adolescence. Although Paramore would still shine without the acoustic ditties, they are a short and sweet break from the electric guitars and wailing vocals of the album. Additionally, in the powerful “Last Hope” Williams admits that “it’s not that [she] [doesn’t] feel the pain, it’s just that [she’s] not afraid of hurting anymore,” reminding listeners that no matter bleak things seem, things will look up eventually.

The make-or-break point of the album is the decision to experiment sonically, and in Paramore’s case, they hit the nail on the head. “Ain’t It Fun” combines a Michael Jackson-esque sound with sarcastic lyrics, spitting, “Ain’t it fun living in the real world?” The track concludes with a hand-clapping gospel choir that seems out of place but somehow works with the infectious song.

“Hate To See Your Heart Break” is an acoustic gem that combines sweet strings with heartfelt lyrics, promising that “hearts can heal” with a poignancy beyond the young band’s 20-some years. “(One Of Those) Crazy Girls” sounds as if it came straight from a 60’s girl group album, and, as the name suggests, Williams narrates the woes of a girl who refuses to be broken up with, and even breaks into her ex-boyfriend’s house and “goes through [his] closet just so [she] can smell [his] skin.”

The album still contains a few tracks boasting the classic Paramore sound, such as the dynamo “Anklebiters” that urges listeners to “fall in love with [themselves], because someday [they’re] going to be the only one [they’ve] got.” Despite barely passing two minutes, the track is one of the strongest on the album, and packs a punch despite its short length. In addition, a sequel to Riot’s “Let The Flames Begin,” “Part II” opens with nearly the same line as its predecessor, and the chorus contains some of Williams’ best vocals on the album. Though injected by a sugary sweet pop sound, the irresistible “Still Into You” remains true to the band’s trademark formula of edgy instrumentals blended with catchy lyrics, and the track (the second single off the album) has the potential to be Paramore’s biggest hit yet.

The album is a 17-track monster, clocking in at 64 minutes, but despite a few duds (most notably the instantly forgettable filler track “Be Alone” and the slightly sleepy “Grow Up”), it is some of the best content Paramore has ever released. Paramore is a risk from beginning to end, but it certainly paid off, as the album is without a doubt the band’s best album to date, and one of the best albums of 2013.  With each album, the band members seem to grow up a little more, and have smoothly transitioned from a group of teenagers singing about heartbreak and angst to adults dealing with their problems instead of letting “anklebiters” step all over them. Though upon first listen, the album sounds like a musical patchwork quilt, the tangle of different genres and sounds suggest that Paramore refuses to be defined by the pop-rock genre that has tabooed them to music elitists in the past, and show that as the band members grow up, their music is growing with them.