Music has become the background noise to our lives, played at the gym to keep our attention or while we focus on homework or the novel we were supposed to read a week ago. At my work, it’s mindless beats that keep my mind away from a never-ending parade of “can I get that without french fries?” For those of us who’ve forgotten why music deserves to be listened to, I present to you Paramore’s new self-titled fourth album.
The album comes after a nearly four-year album hiatus that saw the departure of guitarist Josh Farro and drummer Zac Farro. The remaining members, singer Hayley Williams, bassist Jeremy Davis, and guitarist Taylor York, presented “Paramore” on April 5 as their newest creation, an experimental album exploding with ukuleles and hard rock, romantic ballads and lighthearted blow-offs. Paramore proves that, though they may have lost the harshness of “Misery Business,” they’re rediscovering their direction and who they are as a newly three-person collection.
The album opens up with a “Fast in My Car,” a lightly synthesized rock song that sounds like their past, but rings of their future direction. Lyrics like “no one’s the same as they used to be” and “we’ve got our riot gear on but we just want to have fun” harken back to not only their second album, “Riot,” but also the changes the band has undergone.
“Now” and “Grow Up” continue in a similar fashion, appearing to comment on the band’s changes and its efforts to “grow up.” The latter song begins Paramore’s shift into a more upbeat and lively sound, forming a smoother noise than their previous songs and albums. With the gentler rhythm and calmer vocals, it suggests that part of growing up, at least for the band, was losing some of that unnecessary anger and learning that “if I have to, I’m gonna leave you behind.”
Paramore begins to move into it’s present with “Daydreaming,” a song that itself sounds like a daydream with each vocal fluid and effortless, rising at the chorus and then mellowing down in a light upbeat. It’s a song of restlessness and impatience, describing an eagerness to escape and wanting to “go where the rest of the dreamers go.”
Just to make sure you don’t become too accustomed to the sound of “Paramore,” they drop in a short, 1.5-minute long ukulele-fueled, echoing jam entitled “Moving On.” If you don’t suddenly crave a hammock to rock your problems away, you aren’t paying enough attention to this lighthearted tribute to how some people just aren’t “worth the fight.” The second short interlude, “I’m Not Angry Anymore,” continues under the same mindset and same ukulele rocking.
Slowing down the album is “Hate To See Your Heart Break,” a song that’s as soft as the sadness of the title would suggest, but the rhythm picks right back up after the interlude. Paramore concludes with “Be Alone” and “Future,” a rock song and an ode to the future respectively. “Future” stands as Paramore’s anthem, an encouragement towards the future and moving beyond the past.
The weak point comes in as “Still Into You,” a pop-y, almost Katy Perry-esque song that seems too lighthearted for a band that was once known for singing “Once a whore, you’re nothing more.” While giving credit to the band for its evolution and growth, “Still Into You” resonates as cheap and easy, the lyrics holding no true weight or depth. It’s basically a person in the butterflies phase of a new relationship, and while it’s sweet and catchy, it’s shallow lyrics wont be, or at least shouldn’t be, tattooed on a wrist anytime soon.
Overall, however, the album is an evident change for the band, expanding across a vast array of genres, ideas, and themes. Though mildly bipolar in its variety, “Paramore” ensures that while you may not like everything on the album, there will at least be a few songs you can’t get out of your head.
7/10: It won’t change any lives, but it’s a good start to a new direction.
Image Courtesy of Paramore Album Release