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Paramore is the self-titled fourth album from the Tennessee pop rockers. The Grammy-nominated album debuted at number one on the ARIA charts and is currently sitting at number one on the US Billboard Top 200 after knocking Justin Timberlake off the top spot this week.
In a change of pace for Paramore, the album is their first release since former band-mates, guitarist Josh Farro and drummer Zac Farro left the band as a trio in December 2010. Since forming when lead singer Hayley Williams was just 15, Paramore have certainly matured and taken plenty of risks on the new album. Teaming up with former Nine Inch Nails drummer and producer Justin Meldal-Johnsen (M83, Beck, Tegan and Sara), Paramore’s sound has been somewhat reinvented and, by the end of the album, according to Williams, you’ll feel like you’re listening to a new band.
There’s no denying that the departure of the Farro brothers from Paramore left the remaining band members wounded, and this resonates throughout as the album tells the stories of the battles they have faced and ultimately overcome. Williams unveiled that the album was self-titled, as a statement of rediscovery, rebirth and artistic liberation:
“We feel that the best way to give it a name is just to call it what it is. This album is us.”
The group experiment with a new sound, bringing a positively uplifting feel to their music. It’s an album about growing up, moving on and starting over, and there is certainly a prominent sense throughout of vulnerability and past wounds healing.
With this new approach, the 17-track album is packed full of fast-paced, guitar-heavy tracks with plenty of catchy choruses and hooks. In lead single Now, the feelings surrounding the group’s newfound sense of creative freedom shows (“If there’s a future we want it”), ultimately overcoming the obstacles faced, announcing “Lost the battle? Win the war!”
In stand-out track Ain’t It Fun, you can feel the creative boundaries crashing down. A seriously catchy pop song, supported by a gospel choir, all of the emotion that Williams and the band have thrown into this album is highlighted. Slower-paced track Daydreaming explores the idea of overcoming fear and making dreams come true, while Hate To See Your Heart Break – a sweet, country-tinged ballad – is accompanied by beautiful and emotive strings.
Interludes Moving On and Holiday deliver ukulele-backed vocals from Williams – a far cry from the darker, heavier sound we’ve been used to. In the third and final interlude, I’m Not Angry Anymore, Williams playfully states, “I’m not angry anymore / Well, sometimes I am / I’m not bitter anymore / Well, sometimes I am”.
Part II – a follow-up to Let the Flames Begin from their Riot album – opens with the same line as that song and boasts a considerable amount of frantic drums and heavy surges of electric guitar. Final track Future starts off at a much slower tempo, incorporating finger-picking acoustic guitar and strings, building to a beautifully executed finale of solid drums and lead guitar solos.
Embracing diversity, Paramore have delivered their best album to date. And how bittersweet is must be that they have triumphed so greatly over tribulation.