Paramore, This Is Why
It’s been 5 long years since Paramore’s last release – and This Is Why. A product of cabin feverish introspection, This Is Why places the Paramore psyche under a microscope; combining indie-rock grooves, post-punk melodrama and the gorgeous honesty of Hayley Williams’ solo endeavours, this record slowly unravels what it is to be alive. Drowning the glistening energy of 2017’s After Laughter in self-contempt, the alt trio have served up self-reflection in their rawest form to date – resulting in a sound that is unguarded, glitteringly spiteful and absolutely triumphant. A collection of broken shards lovingly pieced back together, This Is Why is an eclectic triumph.
Right out the gates, title track This Is Why sets the tone gorgeously. A Bloc Party-esque joyride, the track bristles with danceability in the face of fear, quietly infectious in every way. It’s a track that exemplifies Paramore’s charm this era – subtlety. Tracks are never over-cooked, perfectly precise. From staccato structuring to frazzled indie riffs, every detail feels razor-sharp. Running Out Time is a prime example, driven by its bouncy bassline and Williams’ charismatic, honeyed vocals, but there’s no attempt to build to a huge, climactic crescendo. There’s a confidence in each track that truly highlights the group’s new brand of maturity; while a grueling guitar riff can pack a punch, sometimes a muted glitz of dream pop can prove far more revealing.
Williams truly lays it all bare on this record, exploring the many sides of her personal and performative personas. From the gloriously bitter rage wrapped in velvet on Figure 8, to the tender flicker of hope that is Liar, we are given a front row seat to Williams’ mental exposé. Williams tears herself down, dancing in the smouldering flames before she carefully reconstructs herself anew. The record grows more vulnerable as it progresses, moving from an almost femme fatale front, oozing bratty pessimism on the outrageously catchy C’est Comme Ca, and karma-hungry “never say I wasn’t petty!” spite on You First, before moving into raw, open and painful self-hatred of Thick Skull. Williams’ confidently explores each realm, allowing it its own moment in the spotlight and laying it all bare.
This exploration of the psyche is definitely strengthened by Paramore’s more diverse sonic palette this time round. Co-opting elements of britpop, mathrock and dance-punk, the trio have never strayed this far from their classic ‘emo’ sound before – but it works. The dynamic flavours at play only widen Paramore’s ability to explore emotional states fluidly and maturely, allowing space for a Hard-Fi dance break or a brooding bite of Yard Act-like cynicism. Arguably, the sonic amplification of emotion almost makes this an entirely new form of emo, in a way; if we consider the breezy dissociation of Crave, the dream pop at play is undoubtedly laced with the emotional weight one would place under the emo umbrella. Thick Skull’s broken, delicate texturing also captures something ineffable but deeply ‘emo’ adjacent – it’s a track that absolutely aches, unbearably heavy in its lofty, gentle and sparse soundscaping. It stops you in your tracks, a heaven-sent dose of self-critique that peels away Williams’ skin, leaving her absolutely exposed to the listener. The sounds at play are an obvious step onwards from the trio’s previous work, yet the emotions at play are more intense than ever, resulting in something truly sensational.
This Is Why is hysterical, flawed and earnest in all the right ways. Broiling with bitterness and jangling with optimism, Paramore have crafted a record that is perfectly conflicted, showcasing the personal and sonic growth from their last record expertly. It’s been half a decade since After Laughter, and the trio aren’t the same people they once were – and they don’t think their listeners should stay stuck in the past either. This is a record that pushes forward, a sign of how complex and dynamic ’emo’ has the potential to become. It is unwaveringly assured in itself, bold and brazen yet never overdone, allowing the pot to simmer and linger, expertly subtle. This Is Why only matures with each listen, and is a surefire sign that Paramore are more than ready for this exciting new chapter.
This Is Why is out now.