The album for this week’s ‘What To Listen To’ segment is a crazy-good, fun and fresh self-titled effort by a little Nashville band you might have heard of called Paramore! Not only have they stepped up their game with these songs but it was much needed after the whole break-up drama thing they went through. If you didn’t know, Paramore were originally made up of 5 members but 2 of the founding members left back in 2010 and the 3 remaining members, Hayley Williams (singer), Jeremy Davis (bassist) and Taylor York (guitars/drums) struggled to pick themselves up and carry on. Not only is this album packed with some really great songs, but it also proves that people can push through anything and come out better than ever! Although we were treated to 3 new songs after the break-up to keep Paramore fans on their toes, we still eagerly anticipated how the change was going to affect their sound. Well, we can confidently say the sun is shining out of these guys’ asses because I’ve never heard them like this!
The first song on the album is a real blood-pumper called ‘Fast In My Car’. Slamming drums break us into the album accompanied by an automatic new synthetic dimension to their sound. The improved production is also instantly noticeable. This song is such an exciting start to a new beginning; filled with catchy riffs and upbeat tempos to really get us ready for the journey we’re about to take! Also note Hayley’s new vocal styles. She has battled with voice-threatening illnesses for a long time and her voice has really picked up!
The next song is the first single we heard from this album, ‘Now’. It received mixed reviews because it sounded different from their previous work. Honestly, I think if Paramore were to repeat their sound album after album, they wouldn’t be touring the world and having the times of their lives right now. It’d be pretty boring. Thankfully, with this song, they managed to maintain their roots but grow and experiment with new rhythms and heavier sounds. It’s placement on the tracklist is also smart because it keeps the pace going from the previous song and makes us want more!
Next up is one of my favourites, ‘Grow Up’! At this point, we can feel them channeling No Doubt and similar bands. A very interesting mix of sounds and guitar riffs and wonderful vocals. Also notice that the bass is much easier to hear in their new work. This was, in fact a purposeful move by the band! The band have never been tighter as friends and their instruments really reflect that. Each member is very present in this song which, I suppose, makes the song all the more amazing! The outro is a wonderfully atmospheric synth-pop delight.
A fan-favourite follows in the form of third single, ‘Daydreaming’. Paramore are experts at connecting with their fans on an emotional level because, to put it simply, they understand them! They’re just like them! The song is an anthem for longing to be somewhere else. We have all daydreamed at some point, thinking about the world out there, and this song is a great effort in bringing those thoughts into a studio. I had the opportunity to see Paramore live on their album tour and this song was absolutely beautiful live. People were crying and hugging and screaming and falling over… it was such a mess but a great mess!
Okay, so keeping with the experimental nature of this album, Paramore decided to introduce a new tracklist feature with this album. They have a series of interludes breaking up the songs, which they have never done before! The first is ‘Interlude: Moving On’ and is just features a ukelele and Hayley’s voice. There’s not much to say about this little jammer other than it is a really fun, catchy and appropriate new style and fits right in with the other songs!
Paramore’s latest single, ‘Ain’t It Fun’ is next! Quick Paramore history lesson: Hayley and Jeremy used to be part of a funk cover band called The Factory and would have played songs like this before. So, those saying Paramore shouldn’t be branching out into these kind of styles, do your research… Anyways, this is another favourite of mine from the album! Is it fun? Damn right it’s fun! This song features the most glorious bass lines and soul-infused rock that is highlighted with a gospel-choir towards the end of the song. This is why this is Paramore’s best album so far. They didn’t have to get a gospel choir or write overly-experimental tracks, but they did. They genuinely tried with this song and it payed off so well. This sets them apart from every other punk/pop band out there and, to be honest, sets a standard. There, I said it.
Another fan-favourite coming at you! Also another favourite of mine so expect ‘Part II’ to be really good. The reason it’s called ‘Part II’ is because it literally is the second part to a song from their second album RIOT! called ‘Let The Flames Begin’. If you didn’t catch how their sound has evolved from the previous songs, this will show you exactly what Paramore are capable of! Featuring similar lyrics and melodic qualities to ‘Let The Flames Begin’, ‘Part II’ also has that new synthetic element to the song and also hits a lot harder. ‘Let The Flames Begin’ is a great song for live shows and so is this one. In fact, even on the album, the song sounds live; especially building up to the outro, fans are treated to a classic mosh-tastic climax before a haunting vocal/drums performance. The chorus in this song is absolutely fantastically executed and will have you covered in goosebumps!
Similar to ‘Daydreaming’, the next song, ‘Last Hope’ keeps the connection with Paramore fans strong. Not only do the lyrics tell a story of struggling and desperately trying to figure everything out, but they also give you some great advice from experience. I felt more relaxed and confident with myself in general after hearing this song a few times. Kind of a perfect example of the power of music. The lyrics are also constantly being quoted on sites such as Tumblr so that’s actually a great way to know you’re making a difference and reaching people.
We all know the next song because it was probably Paramore’s biggest single yet, ‘Still Into You’! I personally love the slightly innocent-yet-romantic tone of the song. It’s full of Hayley’s personality instrumentally and lyrically. It’s essentially a cheesy/fun love song written for her long-term boyfriend. It kind of makes me want to fall in love with someone and like, spend a day in Disneyland and then go home with them and watch loads of movies or something.
‘Anklebiters’ is the following track and has a similar happy/upbeat tone. However, there is a slight tinge of anger or confusion with someone, highlighted by the vocals. It’s probably one of the fastest songs on the album, filled with great drumming and more experimental rhythm patterns. It sounded like a blast to record this song, as heard in the outro.
‘Interlude: Holiday’ is the 11th track on the record. Similar to the previous interlude, it’s quite laid-back and stripped of heavier instruments. However, this time the bass is present and it just makes this song such a great little tune. I can so see Paramore playing this in a hot country on a porch or something. I might say this song sounds lazy, but I don’t mean that in a bad way. It’s cool and breezy and is a nice morning song.
We’re brought straight back into the heavier sounds with ‘Proof’. Honestly, it’s not the strongest song on the album and because it’s right after such a soft song, it feels quite uncomfortable to listen to. However, when played alone, it’s a great song that reminds me of some of the other songs on the album.
‘Hate To See Your Heartbreak’ is the ballad of the album. A very soft and vulnerable track that tells a really horrible story of someone being hurt by someone else, highlighted by the great lyric, “the dullest knife just sawing back and forth and ripping through the softest skin there ever was”. Paramore also used a string quartet amazingly in this song, another feature they’ve never included in their previous work. The delicate drumming really just makes us feel the heartbreak and sorrow the song is written about.
My absolute favourite from the album is ‘(One of Those) Crazy Girls’. Hayley admitted that the song wasn’t written about personal experience, it was just a fun song to write about the character of a girl obsessed with her boyfriend. The guitar and rhythm work in this song is absolutely phenomenal and something I’ve honestly never heard from bands like Paramore. You really don’t need to relate to the lyrics in this song to enjoy it at all. It also features orchestral strings to bring out that psycho-romance theme a bit more. It’s such a wonderfully produced track that, again, sets Paramore apart from every other band out there.
The final interlude of the album, ‘Interlude: I’m Not Angry Anymore’ is another great, simple tune that is about the “moving on” process. That ukelele is back to strip the song of drama. We can even hear Hayley giggle in-between lyrics. It’s short and syrupy-sweet!
I hate having a least favourite song on an album, but I always try to find something good to say about the ones that are my least favourite. Personally, I feel like ‘Be Alone’ could be a B-side for this album. Although it has wicked drumming and a chorus that we can all head-bang to, it just doesn’t match up to the rest of the songs for some reason. It does contain heavy qualities from Paramore’s first album, which is nice, but perhaps the reason why I feel like it doesn’t fit right on the album. If it was placed further back on the record, I think it would do better as an album track, but honestly, I find myself skipping over this song most of the time.
‘Future’ ends the album and is an interesting song in general. Although it’s intention on the tracklist is obvious, it contains a lot of qualities not heard on the rest of the album. Almost 8 minutes long, the first 2 and a half minutes sound completely acoustic. You can hear conversations between members in the studio during the intro and even someone eating something and fidgeting with packaging for some sort of food. However, leading into the third minute, the song becomes a heavy-yet-haunting jam session between the guitars and drums. It’s pretty much repeating chords and drums with slight changes in the lead guitar for the remainder of the song. There are also some volume-level changes. Altogether, I understand it being the last song on the album, but I just wish we had one more really big hit to finish us off. I was a little bewildered when the album ended because I was kind of expecting a bigger ending, but perhaps the intention was to leave us wanting more and out in the open. After all, that would match the song title and general theme of the album. We’ve worked through a journey of music and now we’re left asking ourselves, “So, now what? What’s next?”
This self-titled album is, as mentioned, a 17-song journey. Although some of the track-listing is quite messy on our moods, it is a beautiful album that Paramore really needed to make. You can really hear that they were held back in terms of their imagination and capabilities over the past few years, and now we can really hear them as we were meant to hear them. I love artists/bands that have personality and develop before our eyes and can master the skill of holding on to your signature styles and sounds but keep everything fresh and interesting. That’s ultimately why I have written about this album this week. Paramore really proved themselves as musicians with these songs and I’m honestly really happy for them.