Paramore: This Is Why – “A Poignant Reflection On Growth”

3.5 out of 5.0 stars

Paramore’s return with their latest album, This is Why, marks a significant shift from their new wave sound in 2017’s After Laughter to a modern, post-punk, rock outfit.

This Is Why features catchy tracks with reflective lyrics on aging, and self-scrutiny that are both witty and sardonic. While the band’s earlier material was fueled by teenage angst, and heartbreak, the latest offering demonstrates a shift in focus towards contemporary concerns, such as the effects of digital media and the impact of global events like the pandemic.

One of the album’s strengths is its lyrical content, which focuses on themes of self-reflection and growth. “C’est Comme Ca,” cleverly reflects on the boredom that comes with getting older, while “The News” addresses the overwhelming negativity of the current media landscape.

Hayley Williams‘ vocal control is exceptional, allowing her to effortlessly shift between gentler tones to the powerful high notes that define the band’s sound. Ballads like “Liar” and “Crave” demonstrate her ability to use her pitch range to create haunting and ethereal tones that perfectly complement the poetry in the lyrics.

The album’s most powerful track, “Big Man, Little Dignity,” is a feminist critique of toxic masculinity, with scathing lyrics that will resonate with many listeners. Similarly, the album’s final track, “Thick Skull,” provides a poignant reflection on the cyclical nature of growth and learning.

With the addition of a velvety drone of a clarinet, “Figure 8” sets a moody atmosphere before Williams takes control with her sneering vocals, delivering the cutting lyrics, “All for your sake, became the very thing that I hate.” The track also features a cleverly integrated sample of the maracas from At The Drive-In‘s live performance of “One Armed Scissor,” adding an extra layer of depth to their post-punk sound.

While the album has its enjoyable moments and features some standout tracks, it ultimately falls short of its full potential. The overuse of repetitive choruses in some songs takes away from their overall impact – though it could be argued that’ll be the most captivating moments in a live environment. The spiky guitar riffs and rapid, discordant drumming pay homage to the band’s roots, but the combination can sometimes sound disorderly and chaotic.

Although a triumphant return for Paramore, at times This Is Why feels more like an energetic evolution of Hayley Williams‘ 2020 solo album, Petals For Armor, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Watch Paramore’s “Running Out Of Time” below

This Is Why is out now via Atlantic Records. You can order your copy here.

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