Paramore – Paramore
Record Label: Fueled By Ramen
Release Date: April 9th 2013
For most music fans, certain bands tend to stick with you for a very long time, and usually, they’re bands that you first got into when you were new to music. Those two bands for me are Paramore and Fall Out Boy. Coincidentally, both bands have new records being released this year, even more in the span of just a week apart. Paramore, the TN outfit is one I have an interesting history with; they were one of the very first bands I got into. After 2007’s Riot, I got into a lot of other music, so I didn’t really pay the band much attention until 2009’s Brand New Eyes. That record kind of caught me by surprise, because it was a lot different from anything the band had ever done. It was indie, pop-rock, with a couple pop-punk tinged tracks. After that, they released a few singles, and they never disappeared from music. However, they stepped away for awhile, focusing on other things, including themselves. Paramore lost a couple members, but they’ve still been going strong, especially with the release of the appropriately self-titled record. What better way to return than to self-title your record? If one thing’s for sure, Paramore is not the same band they were in 2005 when All We Know Is Falling was released. That’s why the record is such a big deal – they are not the same band, and who can blame them? After losing the guitarist and drummer brother team of Josh and Zac Farro, the band needed to move forward. They’re trying to break out of that mold they were in prior to Brand New Eyes. One of the best parts of this album is how free and unrestricted the band sounds. They clearly put their time into this record, considering the record is 64 minutes with 17 songs. If there’s one glaring complaint that I, along with plenty of other fans and critics alike, have with the record, it’s merely that it drags on after awhile, but to the record’s defense, that’s what you can expect from a record that long, with very few exceptions. That’s not to say that Paramore’s self-titled does not flow well, but it does have a lot of variety.
Having a lot of variety is a very good thing, because the band finally let loose and kind of just did whatever they wanted. They certainly succeed, because some tracks have a very straightforward pop-rock sound, others have an R&B/pop sound, others have an acoustic ballad sound, and there’s even one song on this album with a post-rock sound. That’s not something I would ever expect to say about a Paramore record, but it happens. Paramore is more than just a pop-rock and pop-punk band anymore. I had a rather hard time thinking of what Paramore sounds like, because there’s nothing they do sound like. This is certainly an album that I would recommend listening to all the way through, because while this record may not appeal to everyone (and that’s fine, because Paramore is not everyone’s metaphorical cup of tea), there are 17 songs on here, so there might be something that most people could take from it, even if it’s a track or two. As a believer of progression and experimentation, I was eagerly awaiting this record, and my love for this band has gotten rekindled, so to speak. In all honesty, after listening to this record plenty of times in the span of a few days, I’d say this is Paramore’s best record to date. Instrumentally, there’s a lot of versatility and variety. Vocally, Williams’ vocals have never been better, and the things she can do with her voice are absolutely wonderful. Lyrically, though, I’d say this record is a mixed bag. On one hand, there are songs with wonderful lyrics, but on the other, there are some songs that leave me scratching my head, because they remind me of lyrics I’d hear on one of their earlier records. The lyrics on this record are kind of all over the place, but themes of growing up and moving on show up at a few different points. In a way, that makes perfect sense, because that’s what this new era of Paramore is all about – change. And if there was one thing I thought after hearing first single “Now” is that the band has changed, but for the better. When Williams belts out, “There’s a time and a place to die, but this ain’t it,” I can’t help but nod in agreement. Even with the loss of two crucial members, the band still is able to hold their own, and at the same time, the band never becomes “Hayley Williams and friends,” or something to that effect. There are a few tracks where Williams’ vocals become the forefront of the song, but her voice carries very well with the backing instrumentation.
The record begins with “Fast In My Car,” which is a very interesting song, because sonically, it’s a very strong pop-rock track, yet the lyrics are some of the strangest I’ve ever heard. Sonically, and instrumentally, it’s a great track. It’s one of my favorites, despite the strange lyrics. Second track and lead single “Now” follows, and this is the first song I really heard from the record, and as I mentioned earlier, it’s a nice lead single, because it has Williams’ proclaiming that now is not the time and place to die, most likely meaning their career. This song has a very new vocal style for Williams, her voice almost having a yelp to it in the chorus and pre-chorus. It’s a few choices like these that make her vocals very interesting and engaging. And as I also mentioned, either way, they’re the best they’ve ever been. As for the song itself, this is certainly a nice track to use to show off Paramore’s “new” sound. They’re not pop-punk anymore, and it seems like that’s what this song was trying to show. Third track “Grow Up” is one of my favorites on this record, because this kind of continues the lyrical trend that “Now” was setting up. This track has Williams saying, “Some of us have to grow up sometimes, and so if I have to, I’m gonna leave you behind.” I wonder if this is calling out fair-weather fans of the band, who only like their older stuff, or only listen to them to trash-talk them. Either way, this is a very catchy song, and one of my favorites. Fourth track “Daydreaming” is honestly one of the best songs that Paramore has ever done. It’s a bit more straightforward, but this is another song that certainly shows off their versatility and newer sound.
Before I move any further, I know I’m talking about the tracks individually, but the first four songs on this record are very strong. There are a few filler tracks on this record, and that makes sense, because there are 17 songs, despite three of them being interludes. Now before I move on, fifth track “Interlude: Moving On” is the first of three interludes. These are ukulele-laden, and they’re all quite short, but this one is the longest at a minute and a half. This one seems to deal with Williams’ moving on from the Farro bros. I’m glad these interludes are here, because they do manage to break up the record into parts. The other two interludes sprinkled throughout the record serve the same purpose, so there’s nothing really worthwhile about them, but they’re still great. Because the record is 17 songs, it features a nice mix between “filler” songs and highlights. A couple of highlights occur in the form of sixth track “Ain’t It Fun” and seventh track “Part II.” The former is an R&B/gospel/jazzy track that has Williams talking about being alone and not counting on anyone in a very tongue-in-cheek, and this song both succeeds lyrically and instrumentally. The latter is what it says – it’s a sequel to the song “Let the Flames Begin” from 2007’s Riot. It took me awhile to catch the resemblance to “Let the Flames Begin,” but that’s probably because I haven’t listened to that record in a long time, but when you listen to both songs back to back, they both share similar lyrics, and a similar melody throughout. Is that a bad thing? No, it’s creative, because they’re still referencing their earlier work, but not trying to relive their former glory, because they’re a different band now. Despite that, ninth track “Still Into You” brings to mind a song like “Misery Business” from Riot (although that song isn’t as enjoyable as this one), because it’s very poppy and a surefire radio hit. Following that song is tenth track “Anklebiters.” This song is a more straightforward pop-punk track, and it’s only a bit over 2 minutes. It’s a snippy little track that has Williams talking about people who have nothing but negative things to say about her and her band. It’s a bit out of place, but considering this record isn’t the most cohesive record, it’s not upsetting.
It’s after eleventh track “Interlude: Holiday” that the record becomes rather sour; twelfth track “Proof” is a great track, because this is another song that hits me right in the feels. The same goes for next track “Hate to See Your Heart Break,” but at five minutes long, the track does get rather dull after awhile. The next three tracks (minus the last interlude) aren’t really my favorite songs on the record, but they are enjoyable, however. “(One of Those) Crazy Girls” has Williams doing her best impression of Taylor Swift, and while it’s a clever song, it seems more satirical than anything, and seems a bit out of place. “Be Alone” is another song that hits me in the feels, and it’s the only other “love” song on the record. It’s not quite a love song, but it’s kind of hinting at that. Finally, last track “Futures” shows the band doing their best post-rock closing track impression with an 8-minute song with a rather long instrumental towards the end. It seems as though this is trying to solidify Paramore as a full band than a solo project of Williams. This closing track is a bit awkward, but it’s still a cool track. This record is full of highs and lows, and ultimately, it’s a mixed bag. There are some great songs, and some mediocre ones. Even if you don’t enjoy Paramore, you might find something to enjoy on this record. It shows them trying to branch out of the sound that everyone is used to them having, and it does it very well. The only complaint I have is they should’ve cut out a few tracks, and turned it into a 12 or 13 track record, and not 17. Seventeen seems rather steep, but for diehard fans, this is an enjoyable record.