Lauren Wong | The Poly Post

Review: Paramore triumphantly returns with defiant new album ‘This Is Why’

By Michael Yu, Feb. 21, 2023

After a six-year hiatus, Paramore has returned with their new album “This Is Why.” During the hiatus, the world faced momentous changes and hardships — from a global pandemic to numerous social injustices. It is these moments that the band captures on “This Is Why,” as Paramore triumphantly confronts the newfound anxieties that are present in today’s scarred world.

Ever since the band’s debut in 2005, they have constantly reinvented themselves and their sound. From the heavy pop punk sound of 2007’s “Riot!” to the shimmering electronic sounds of 2017’s “After Laughter,” the band has never been content with familiarity. This is no different with “This Is Why,” as the tracks adopt a new post punk sound full of thrilling melodies and experimental forays.

The album’s opening track, “This Is Why” is an energetic and soulful introduction.  “This is why I don’t leave the house /  you say the coast is clear / but you won’t catch me out,” screams frontwoman Hayley Williams in a galvanizing chorus that loudly rejects “After Laughter’s” glossy pop for a sound with a sharper edge that crawls with paranoia.

The album’s standout track is “You First,” a song that explores Williams’ internal struggle of not being able to be seen as the “good guy” in everyone else’s story.  She memorably likens this experience to feeling like both the killer and the final girl in a horror film. The tracks aggressive instrumentation from drummer Zac Farro and guitarist Taylor York lay the perfect canvas for Williams’s hard-hitting lyrics and vocals to take center stage.

Lauren Wong | The Poly Post

“Running Out Of Time” is an effortlessly breezy and infectious track about how easily time can slip from one’s fingers, a feeling exemplified for many as they waited out the pandemic’s numerous quarantines. The song effortlessly transitions to “C’est Comme Ça,” French for “that’s just the way it is.” While this track features bouncy instrumentation and unique spoken word segments, its repetitive chorus drags the song down to mediocrity.

“The News” is a politically charged track directed at the seemingly never-ending catastrophe perpetuated by 24/7 news. The song recounts how the pandemic forced many people to be trapped in their homes, glued to computer screens and receiving only increasingly negative news. From numerous quarantines to the war in Ukraine, Paramore capture these feelings of unresolved outrage and morphs them into the bands most aggressive and scathing song in years.

Starting with a disorientating kaleidoscope of noises, “The News” settles into an unsettling groove complete with spiky riffs and punchy drums. Williams laments in a monotone voice how there is both a “war on the other side of the planet” and a “war right behind my eyes,” which serves as a brutal unveiling of the modern world.

However, the album slows down dramatically with the second half, as the band deliver ballads such as “Liar” and “Big Man, Little Dignity.” While the tracks deliver quality lyrics and instrumentation, the abrupt shift from the rapid-fire potency of the first four tracks creates a sense of disconnect.

“Crave” depicts Williams wishing to revisit moments of her life while lamenting the fleeting nature of memories. Set to glossy and subdued instrumentation, Williams delivers a stirring chorus in the album’s strongest vocal performance.

The album’s final track, “Thick Skull,” shows Williams confronting her fears and insecurities compiled over her lengthy career in a powerful conclusion. The song starts as a quiet and somber ballad, but steadily crescendos to a euphoric release of emotions driven by compelling instrumentation.

Perhaps the album’s biggest misstep is its short length. Clocking in at a meager 36 minutes, the album feels over before it can truly get started, without a middle segment to bridge the abrupt tonal shift. After such a long wait, it was disappointing to hear such a short experience.

Despite these grievances, “This Is Why” is a powerful portrait of the current pandemic and war ridden world we all live in. Paramore has traded their old anthems that brimmed with teen angst for mature ballads that target real world unease and show that “this is why” they have tested the test of time so effortlessly.

Feature image courtesy of Lauren Wong

Verified by MonsterInsights