This album is a big step away from the old Paramore and for that reason some die-hard fans may not like it. Their negative comments, Katy Perry comparisons and general outrage can be viewed all over Youtube and on the album review page on iTunes.
And they’d be right to say that Paramore have changed. But does that mean they’ve sold out? Are they going to headline Reading next year and watch thousands of people leave after they’ve performed their two most recent and mainstream tracks, subsequently going off on a massive rant about loyalty and ‘real fans’..
Or was that just Kings of Leon?
Honestly I can’t see it happening. Hayley’s too hot and inadvertently sexy for any man to want to leave even two-thirds of the way through.
But seriously though, what can fans expect of Paramore’s self titled album? Well, let’s put it this way, if you were hoping for another Riot or an album which, if still a progression, was another 12 tracks of ‘more of the same’ then you’re going to be disappointed. With the Farro brothers having left – one of whom was the main songwriter – Paramore was always heading for a change in direction. And for those of you who were hoping for revival of All We Know is Falling, well you’re just in stupid!
This album will undoubtedly vex some fans and bring an end to their irrevocable love affair with the band (they might even think about getting that tattoo removed). However in my experience I found that, if you’re prepared to listen to this latest offering with fresh ears and approach it as an individual record without any preconceptions, then you might just appreciate how good it is. And it really is good.
Being a Paramore fan myself and very much liking what Josh Farro brought to the band I was dubious at first. Initially I really hated Now and so didn’t have high hopes for the album. I heard it on Youtube and then listened to it on the BBC Radio 1 website (the famous Hulk Hogan interview) and to me it sounded like it was trying too hard to be mainstream. It wasn’t until I started involuntarily singing it that I realised I might have started to like it (not that all songs that get stuck in your head are good). Listening to the album for the first time I found I immediately disliked the opening song and most of the others the first time I heard them! Looking back I think it was a bit of a shock to the ears and unexpected after what they’d released before. However after a few listens you’ll discover that nearly every song is insanely catchy and it won’t be long before you’re humming them without even realising.
Although this record has a surprisingly poppy feel, Hayley’s lyrics are just as good as on the previous albums – still deep, emotive and frequently candid. Plus it’s not all punk pop, there are darker elements in there; the closing song Future for example with its epic drum and guitar crescendo has a distinctly eerie feel to it. Not to mention Part II which is a sequel to Let The Flames Begin and has very much the old Paramore sound. Even the more upbeat tracks, if you listen to the meaning behind them, aren’t all bubblegum and fairies. There’s an acute inner turmoil that seeps out in the lyrics, it’s just disguised in a way that it wasn’t before.
We get along for the most part
Me and reality, the light and the dark
And we live alone
In two different worlds
Me and a fantasy,
And you and your memories..
And I think that’s the crux of Paramore’s Paramore. It flaunts itself as being a feel good, light-hearted record, with tracks like Fast in My Car (a song title you never thought you’d see on a Paramore album) and Still into You fooling you into thinking that this doesn’t have the emotional weight of their back catalogue. In fact, it’s as deep and uncompromising as ever. It seems as though the trio are on a tipping point between the past and present/future. They’re in a better, happier place as a band and that shows on this record, but equally their wounds still appear to be raw, which gives it an antithetical feel. The interludes are a perfect example of this; ukulele combined with bitter-sweet lyrics and echo-effect vocal.
I think Paramore have really branched out on this one, more than they ever have before, and they will lose fans for it but they’ll also gain new ones. It definitely comes across as more mainstream and will attract a different type of listener but lest us not forget – Brand New Eyes went straight in at No 1 in the UK. It’s too late for fans to kid themselves that this band aren’t huge and likely to release anything like All We Know is Falling ever again.
The most important thing is that the Paramore we all know and love are still here, they’re on this album, it’s just that their talents are being utilised and channelled in a different way than before. They’re still great song writers and Hayley is still a great lyricist; yes, they’ve taken a different direction, but in my opinion it’s paid off. Ain’t it Good with the soulful chorus line that comes in half way through? Pure magic. The pleasure I get from listening and singing along (and occasionally dancing..) what a surprise to find that on the album and what a treat!
Paramore’s Paramore ultimately offers something that Brand New Eyes didn’t and I think many people will appreciate and value that. I remember warming instantly to BNE, it had the Paramore sound I knew and loved but softer and with acoustics. Riot was a tricky act to follow-up and had the band released something like this then it would have gone down like a lead balloon. People were desperate for more anthemic, pent-up, power vocal killers. But, as people develop and grow, by definition so will their music. It was the right time for this band to change things up, it will create new fans and for the old ones, it’s something new and exciting. Normally an album of such length is compensating for something but not for these guys; every song is genuinely brilliant and deserves to be there. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve listened to it already.
So well done Paramore. I was worried that your presence in my mind, heart and ears was coming to an end but you proved me wrong! This is a start of a new journey for them and if this is a taste of what’s to come then I can’t wait for the next instalment. Or should I say, I Want Now??