By Brandon Carson The opinions and views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the opinion of Byte or Byte’s editorial board. If you were a teen in the 2000’s, chances are you have listened to Paramore. Lead singer Hayley Williams, guitarist Josh Farro, drummer Zac Farro, and bassist Jeremy Davis all hail from Franklin, Tennessee. Growing pains and breakups have definitely plagued the band members with hard times over the years. With some lineup changes, Paramore has managed to create a discography with sounds ranging from emo rock to indie pop. With hits like “That’s What You Get,” “Misery Business,” and “Ain’t It Fun,” Paramore has toured the world bringing fun melodies, catchy hooks, and heartfelt lyrics to fans everywhere. In this guide I will cover all five Paramore studio albums from All We Know Is Falling to After Laughter.
All We Know Is Falling (2005)2005 was an interesting year for rock music as emo rock was spreading to a wider audience. Fall Out Boy had everyone singing “Sugar We’re Going Down” and “Dance, Dance.” At the same time, “I Write Sins Not Tragedies” gave Panic! At the Disco an audience. Meanwhile, a new contender at the Fueled by Ramen label was emerging… Paramore premiered with All We Know Is Falling (All We Know) on July 26, 2005. Davis did not appear on this album even though he is the original bassist (he did, however, appear on the tour). Now, this album is probably their most “emo,” if you will. The music is moody, the guitar chords are melodramatic and most of the lyrics are what you’d expect: “I’ve seen love die way too many times/when it deserves to be alive.” However, with All We Know, Paramore laid the foundation for what their sound was and would continue to be. “Pressure” and “Emergency” are the two main singles from the album, and they hit hard. These tracks let the listener back in 2005 know who Paramore was. Williams’ vocals are sharp and to the point in every single one of these songs, with the standouts being “Conspiracy” and “My Heart”. But oh, boy can this album feel dated. The sound of this album is exactly how one would expect an album from 2005 would sound. Tracks like “Whoa” and “All We Know” feel trapped in the early 2000’s with their melancholy teenage-anthem sound. However, the record has many unique riffs and melodies thrown in on the tracks “Conspiracy” and “Never Let This Go”. This is, without a doubt, their worst album compared to the other four. However, even with some mediocre songs, All We Know laid the foundation of what Riot! and even Brand New Eyes would later be. Occasional mediocrity aside, this is an important album for the band and many of the fans who have stuck with them since 2005. The album is a must-listen for newcomers of Paramore music but don’t expect any of these songs to be played live— even though “Conspiracy” deserves a slot in their setlist. Best Tracks: Conspiracy, Never Let This Go, My Heart
Riot! (2007)Here it is folks, Paramore’s most popular album. Riot! has two of their biggest hits, their signature sound, and their incredible variety. The album was recorded and released in 2007 with mainstays Williams and the Farro Brothers. This time, original bass player Jeremy Davis was also able to record with the band. Paramore broke into the mainstream with “That’s What You Get,” a catchy pop-punk/emo rock tune that was everywhere from MTV to the radio and even the video game Rock Band 2. “Misery Business” is the other huge hit that solidified Paramore's position as one of the greats of the genre. These songs not only became live staples, they were definition of the band around 2007. Riot! has so much more in store. The variety on the record is incredible. While you get the big rockers like “Misery Business” and the incredible “For a Pessimist, I’m Pretty Optimistic,” the band also created poppy ballads like the catchy “When It Rains” and “We Are Broken.” The album’s final song, “Born For This,” does a much better job of being a big anthem sounding rock song than any song on All We Know. In fact, on their live CD+DVD, The Final Riot!, the band opens with “Born For This” and it serves as the perfect energetic opener for a live show. “Fences” is another great tune that offers a good change of pace with its groovy bassline and fun, clean guitars. The album isn’t perfect. “That’s What You Get,” while being very popular, is still quite generic, and “We Are Broken” and “When It Rains” lack the substance and strong instrumentals that the other songs have. However, Paramore hit a great stride on this album with some great songs. Riot! gave Paramore the success they needed to jumpstart their musical career. The album landed at No. 20 in the Billboard 200 and was certified double platinum. The tour led to the inclusion of high school friend Taylor York as a new guitarist, who would have a huge impact on the band down the road. Best Tracks: Born for This, Let the Flames Begin, For a Pessimist, I’m Pretty Optimistic
Brand New Eyes (2009)Maturity is a hard aspect to grasp with bands. When the members of Paramore approached their 20s, all hell broke loose. Growing up is one of the main themes in the album (which we will also see later), and it’s very obvious…in a fantastic way of course! Drama resonated throughout the band as Williams and guitarist Farro had dated and broken up. The band decided to channel these feelings into the music, creating their most emotional album yet. Brand New Eyes is vastly different from Riot! and All We Know musically and lyrically. The lyrics on the album mostly revolve around the relationship Williams had with Farro and the fallout that almost ended the band. The heavy songs on the record are unlike anything Paramore has made. Opener “Careful” starts the record off with a fast guitar lick and chord progression, adding a whole new aggression to a band. The song is followed by another hard-hitting track and first single, “Ignorance.” The song is fast, fun, and angry. The greatest aspects about this record are the strength of the songs and the overall flow from song to song. After “Ignorance” is “Playing God,” an emotional masterpiece from Paramore. The hook is catchy while thought-provoking and the guitar arpeggios fill the mix with a somber sound. “Brick by Boring Brick” is unique to the record because it tells a story rather than being about the band themselves. The instrumental is fresh and moving, while Williams’s voice beautifully moves the story along. The album is full of fresh deep cuts that all feel like important tracks in the album. “Turn It Off” has Williams at the end of the road, “Feeling Sorry” is a melancholy banger, “Where the Lines Overlap” sounds completely different from the rest of the songs in its main riff and “Misguided Ghosts” has one of the saddest acoustic melodies I have ever heard. Only one track on this album, “Looking Up," feels too run-of-the-mill for the band. Just when the album couldn’t get any stronger, Paramore unleashes their saddest, most powerful song to date, “All I Wanted.” The instrumental sounds quiet at first, but builds into a fantastic slow burn, with crashing drums, reverbed guitars, and a moving melody. However, the real star of the track is Williams. Her voice serenades at first before belting the lyrics “All I wanted was you” at the top of her lungs, making for a truly powerful moment on the record. Soon after this album and tour cycle, the Farro brothers announced their departure of the band. This left Williams, York, and Davis to keep Paramore afloat, and they did. Best Tracks: Playing God, Turn It Off, All I Wanted
Paramore (Self-Titled) (2013)Paramore’s sound drastically changed with 2013’s Paramore. Leaving behind a majority of their emo rock roots, a pop sound took over. However, it isn’t just a pop influence that can be heard, punk and indie influences are present throughout the whole record. The album symbolizes a new era that can be heard in every song. The production is denser with a lot more sounds than the instruments. The guitar lines are incredibly fun and catchy, the bass lines are louder, and Williams’s vocal performance in colorful and bright. Self-Titled begins with “Fast In My Car,” a track that I could not get into at first. Luckily, the track grew on me over the years as I began to appreciate more diverse sounds. It serves as the perfect opener by letting the listener know that this is not the Paramore they remember. This is a looser, more carefree and exciting band that wants to change. The album has its big hits of course, “Still into You” and “Ain’t It Fun.” The tracks were monumental for the band’s popularity, as I still hear “Ain’t It Fun” on the radio. Self-Titled is full of hard-hitting songs like “Now,” a call to arms for the future, “Anklebiters," a punk-infused track about self-acceptance, and “Part II," the sequel to Riot!’s “Let the Flames Begin.” The record is split up by three ukulele interludes that add a great change of pace for the record. The album also comes with fantastic ballads “Last Hope” and “Hate To See Your Heart Break." The biggest surprise is the track “Future," a post-rock inspired song with soft vocals, condensed percussion, and a build-up like no other Paramore song. Overall, this album is one of the band’s most important records. It signifies not only a change in sound, but a change in attitude and outlooks on life. The band went on a huge tour with Fall Out Boy in support of Self-Titled and gained massive success with the record and the big hits that followed. However, like all the records before, the band was about to change. Best Tracks: Part II, Last Hope, (One of Those) Crazy Girls
After Laughter (2017)Legal battles, divorce, and struggles with mental health made the years after Self-Titled difficult for Williams. Davis left the band in 2015 and followed up with a lawsuit over ownership of the band. Williams and her husband Chad Gilbert went through a divorce. These difficult times brought Williams an intense struggle with her depression. The band posted a short video of them in the studio with a picture that featured original drummer Zac Farro. On February 2, 2017, it was announced that Farro had returned to Paramore. The band then returned with the music video for the song “Hard Times”, a new wave inspired indie-pop song. After Laughter released on May 12, 2017 with a completely new sound. “Hard Times” gave fans a taste of the new direction, but no one was prepared for the indie-pop sound. The record is an absolute blast from start to finish. Each song is completely unique while still sounding like Paramore. The lyrics are focused on Williams and the struggles with mental health and the problems that have plagued the band throughout the years. What is so genius about After Laughter is how these sad lyrics mesh with the happy and fun instrumentals. After hearing the album all the way through for the first time, I didn’t exactly enjoy it, or even understand it. Listening to it a couple more times, I was dancing to incredibly sad songs and loving every second of this amazing record. Just like the album before it, After Laughter has a diverse sound. Each song sounds like its own with a common theme connecting them all. The production is colorful and vast with synths and guitar leads that Paramore has never made before. After Laughter is a triumph for the band and a risk that completely paid off. With Farro's return, a new sound, a new identity, and a triumph of an album, the band has a bright future ahead of them. Best Tracks: Rose-Colored Boy, Fake Happy, Idle Worship Editor's note: Recommended playlists by the author can be found here and here.
Sources: RIAA, Spotify Images: Rolling Stone, Billboard, All Music, Babetalk, BBC Featured Image: Buzz Magazine