By Mikayla Silcox
Elm Staff Writer
There are few pressures as great as living up to their greatest hits, torn between a sense of obligation to stick to their original style and the necessary growth that comes with being together for nearly two decades. Throughout the past decade, no band has exemplified this more than Paramore.
Paramore’s last album before their five year hiatus, “After Laughter,” brought an innovative, upbeat sound to their existing discography, receiving praise from long-time fans who followed them since the band’s beginning in 2004.
After a long break, their newest album, “This is Why,” tests these waters again, introducing a bedroom pop-inspired album with politically-driven lyrics.
Despite this album being their shortest, Paramore packs a punch in the 36-minute runtime.
The first song on the album, “This is Why,” opens into an almost manic look on society in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. The funky, psychedelic sound for this album’s thesis does not discredit the angsty look on societal issues, but instead illuminates it, making it seem as if the band is being driven wild by the lack of empathy of others.
The album continues with upbeat societal critiques through songs like “The News,” and “Crave,” showcasing a lyrical evolution from the band. Where their first albums were deeply personal, “This is Why” makes the political personal, and vice-versa.
In an interview with Louisville’s alternative radio station Alt 105.1, lead singer Hayley Williams spoke about the political direction of “This is Why.”
“I don’t think that you should have to be a minority or a marginalized person to have enough empathy to see it, and to not only see it, but to try and figure out what the step is that you should take,” Williams said in regard to social inequity that was brought to light by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Another refined take on the album’s lyricism comes from Paramore’s self-aware songs, taking on a similar feel to Taylor Swift’s “Anti-Hero.” Far from the whiny but yearning sound of early songs like “All I Wanted,” Paramore’s newest album shifts gears to reflect, marking the beginning of an era of self-critique and reflection.
“And it looks like my fault. And it looks like I’m caught red-handed,” Hayley William sings in “Thick Skull,” which, according to Genius, is about how fans portray her and the band following their falling-out with former lead guitarist Josh Farro.
Fans might be disappointed with the lack of variety in the album, however, with some arguably skippable songs that do not add to or reflect Paramore’s growing image. For example, “Big Man Little Dignity” or “C’est Comme Ça” do not add much to the album in terms of a unique sound or transformative lyrics.
Paramore’s fan base has grown up with the band, so even if their shift to political funk-pop does not appeal to the masses, the content of the new music is likely to resonate more with the fans as the years have passed. After all, “After Laughter” managed to set the stage for fan’s expectations on the band’s evolving sound, so “This is Why,” is the perfect opportunity to play with new ideas.
Paramore proves their versatility, a key factor in keeping them on the charts for almost twenty years now. Overall, “This is Why” proves yet again how Paramore has successfully walked the line between their original style and passion and growth.
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Photo caption: Following their album release, Paramore is going on tour across South America, the United Kingdom, and the United States.