Paramore, the self-titled fourth album from American rock band Paramore is a release that has come under a lot of scrutiny. It’s the first of their records to be released without original members Zac and Josh Farro, who left the band in late 2010. The departure of the Farro brothers was surrounded in controversy, with the band’s official statement saying that it was amicable, whilst Josh posted his own statement online which was… less than amicable. There were questions about whether the band would be able to do it without the Farro brothers. When they left, they lost half of the original band, and one of their key songwriters (Josh Farro was responsible for co-writing almost all of the bands music), so critics wondered, would the band succeed without them?
The lead single, and album opener ‘Now’ proved these critics wrong. A punchy slice of pop punk, it’s a lot more edgy than much of their earlier music. And although it lacks the catchy chorus of their pop rock hits like ‘Ignorance’ and ‘Misery Business’, it feels like it’s got a new depth of sound. With overdriven guitars, partially spoken lyrics and frantic drumming it’s obvious the band have worked hard to find themselves a new sound, and this work has paid off. Next single, ‘Still Into You’, is very different. It’s a kick back to the catchy poppy hits they had before, which mirror the lyrics. The song was written about how vocalist Hayley Williams’ feelings towards her long-term boyfriend (Chad Gilbert from New Found Glory) have remained unchanged. It’s refreshing to have a happy love song for once, and for the subject matter to be about how she’s still in love. Song subject matter has always been something that sets Paramore apart from other bands, and that hasn’t slipped up on this record.
‘Grow Up’ shows that the band have also expanded their use of instruments with synthesisers and overdriven guitars, and ‘Aint It Fun’ is the album’s dance-y track (featuring what only can be described as a funky bass line). The album also features three interludes (‘Moving On’, ‘Holiday’ and ‘I’m Not Angry Any More’), which are just Hayley singing with a ukulele accompaniment. They provide a more chilled out break between some quite intense music, proving the band have really thought about the track order. It’s also worth mentioning the wide variety of sounds on the record, what with ‘Now’ having heavy punk elements, ‘Hate to See Your Heart Break’ as a light rock ballad and the brilliant album opener ‘Fast In My Car’ keeping the classic Paramore sound, they’ve explored all their options! And throughout these different sounds, Hayley’s vocals and lyrics continue to shine and be the glue of the bands sound. I was worried that without Josh Farro the lyrics would slip, but they’re just as sarcastic, meaningful and candid as before.
Paramore is a remarkable offering from Paramore, especially with the controversy surrounding it. Even if the bands previous albums haven’t been your thing, it’s worth a listen!