So, one of punk/pop/rock’s greatest enigmas release their highly anticipated fourth album this week. I’ve always sat on the fence with Paramore. They create undeniably brilliant sounding tracks and Brand New Eyes was a really enjoyable listen, but I can never decide if they make really angry sounding pop music or piss weak rock. This inability to sit within a genre seems to constrict the band rather than giving them creative freedom. Beastly anthems such as ‘Misery Business‘ and ‘Ignorance‘ tower majestically above the majority of the band’s discography and act as battle cries, but where does that leave the rest? Quivering in the corner trying to make a metaphor about butterflies sound like a rock song. No thanks.
Paramore’s fans are scarily devout, Beliebers have nothing on these left behind emo kids who see eccentric Hayley Williams as a godlike figure, and now My Chemical Romance have gone, Paramore are left to carry the gauntlet, so it’s clear to understand the anticipation behind this release. The fourth album comes almost four years after their most successful effort, mainly due to 2/5’s of the band leaving on not so good terms to pursue other problems. With the departure of Zach Farro, songwriting duties were left solely to Hayley, and a whole fanbase holds its breath. The self titled album begins with ‘Fast in my Car‘, which is Paramore by numbers, huge drums and intense guitars with a slightly grunge like instrumental offers promise and Williams’ vocal seems to be more Crystal Castles like, the track loses momentum during the choruses but it still remains a solid opener.
‘Now‘ is far better. This sits firmly under a post-punk genre which is simplistic in its lyrical themes and sounds like the anthemic Paramore. When they get it right, they get it really right. The rest of the album is slightly self indulgent in terms of songwriting as Williams takes every opportunity to slate her ex-bandmates, most apparent on the pointless interlude entitled ‘Moving On‘. She may as well have just taken a photograph of her crapping on a photo of the Farro brothers and made that the album cover. Once again though, the band compensate with a brilliant punk rock gem ‘Ain’t It Fun‘ with wide spanning choruses and a fantastic edition of a gospel choir adds depth and variation to a saturated sound. The apparent anthem on this album is the punchy pop heavy ‘Still Into You‘ which is brilliantly written and produced, an infectious, ready made single showing that even without the Farro’s, Paramore are still capable of creating energetic and characterful melodies.
The album is exhaustingly long, at a mammoth 17 tracks, but I feel this works as compensation to the fans who have waited so long for new music. It is consistently strong though, keeping the sound that works so well, yet the band seem to be more open to creativity. ‘Anklebiters‘ is a quick paced and grunge heavy roar whilst ‘Daydreaming‘ loses the complicated narrative and instead focuses on the instrumentals. The sonancy and consistency of this album would be improved so much without the interludes, you start to feel the grunge like atmosphere that tracks like ‘Proof‘ and ‘Part II‘ try to create and you’re suddenly distracted by Hayley and a ukulele humming about holiday plans. Bizarre.
This album has pulled me off the fence further, I saw the band support The Cure at Reading festival last year and their live show is brilliant. Williams makes an exceptional front woman and brought some of the static tracks to life from Brand New Eyes. The discography of this LP already feels more vigorous and captivating than previous releases, there are still moments where you feel slightly suffocated by the amount of piercing guitar but on the whole, the variation is greatly improved and Paramore are heading in a really exciting direction, even if they did lose almost half the band getting there.