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After 5 ½ years away, This Is Why proves Paramore is still in their prime

Paramore’s 2017 release After Laughter was at one point, my favorite album. During my early teens I spent countless hours dancing alone in my bedroom and screaming the lyrics to “Idle Worship” and “Rose-Colored Boy”, and spending melancholic walks home from high school with “26”. Every lyric, synth flair, and drum fill on that album I know like the back of my hand. So when The lead single and title track to This Is Why released this past September, I couldn’t have been more excited.

So much had gone down in the time in between these releases in the lives of the band members, and in the world at large. In an Instagram post made hours before the album’s release in the US, the band stated that if you had felt any of the following (including agoraphobia, rage, and apathy among many others), then “oh boy, do we have an album for you.” A lot of the themes present on this album definitely feel like a spiritual continuation of frontwoman Hayley Williams’ recent solo work, sister albums Petals For Armor and FLOWERS for VASES/descansos released in 2020 and 2021 respectively. Despite their more subdued sound in comparison to the Paramore catalog, female rage and palpable desire remained imminent in Williams’ writing. No exception to that has been made for This Is Why, and it has pleased newer and longtime fans alike.

In the wake of this release, many critics have boiled Paramore down to just Williams, but on This Is Why in particular, the band's two other current members (Paramore has notably had several major lineup changes) shine as instrumentalists more than they ever have before. Zac Farro and Taylor York have not only proven their competence as instrumentalists and composers on this album, but have reminded listeners of their pure excellence. Paramore has truly never been as groovy as they are on this record, exemplified primarily by tracks “Running Out Of Time”, which features a screech from Hayley that gets me excited every time “Figure 8”, and “Crave”. It is crystal clear how in tune Farro and York are with each other musically, and that clicks immensely well on this album. You can tell that the trio were eager to get back into the swing of things together.

Don’t let the danceability of this record fool you though. Williams’ lyrics are sassy and moody as ever, but not quite in the same way they were on Paramore’s previous releases. This Is Why highlights feelings of exhaustion, annoyance, and forced ambivalence towards the events going on in both the band’s personal lives and the world at large. Whether it’s pompous men or the depressing reality of the 24 hour news cycle, Hayley is fed the fuck up. On “Big Man, Little Dignity,” Williams laments the successes of undeserving white men, describing the song’s subject, “Your subscription to redemption has been renewed // You keep your head high, smooth operator in a shit-stained suit.” Now in her mid thirties, it’s evident that Williams’ is at wits end with the trudge that comes with being a woman in the music industry, and that frustration comes through with every word her bold and buttery voice sings.

Front to back, This Is Why is an exhilarating listen that showcases the best assets of Hayley, Taylor, and Zac equally. Paramore has outlived their mid 2000’s pop punk contemporaries, maturing with the passage of time in the music landscape and their own artistic progressions.

 

Listen to This Is Why out now on all streaming platforms at the link below:


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