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The early-2000s pop-punk band Paramore, best known for hits like “Misery Business” and “The Only Exception,” influenced many people’s emo era when they were a kid. Often bunked with bands like Fall Out Boy and Panic! At The Disco (RIP), Paramore shone through with their rock-band instrumentals and their incredibly talented vocalist and front woman of the group, Hayley Williams.
This is Why is Paramore’s sixth album. With the previous success of Riot! and the more modern example of After Laughter, the announcement of a new album after a long five-year hiatus was exciting news for fans of the group. Unfortunately, with the combination of built expectations and lackluster tracks, This is Why is nothing but a mediocre attempt at reliving the band’s heyday.
In this Time article, the author writes that “the album is replete with echoes of their past.” This shows throughout all 10 tracks, and not in a good way. If This is Why had come out in 2010, these songs may have been creative for the time, and I’m sure I would have been blasting them through headphones while on my way to elementary school, but the band’s trivial pursuit to improve on their previous sound just doesn’t work in 2023.
One of the worst songs on the album is called “Crave.” “Crave” is slightly slower, but is still a more-modern version of Paramore’s signature style. While the lyricism is wonderful—“I romanticize even the worst of times when all it took to make me cry was being alive” is a super cool line—the rhythm is mind-numbingly boring. I was sick of it after just one listen, so it’s safe to say that “Crave” is a definite skip-in-a-playlist tune.
“The News,” however, highlights Paramore’s mimicry of their old style well. The song is a fun callback to older hits like “Brick by Boring Brick” and “crushcrushcrush,” while also maintaining a flair of modernity. The lyrics establish a feeling of guilt due to one’s ability to “turn off the news” and ignore the bad events happening all over the world. The beat is catchy and expertly matches the tone of the song, as the loud drums and guitar try to drown out all the bad things as well. Overall, this song is an incredible addition to this album.
The Only Expectation
After Laughter, Paramore’s 2017 album and their last release as a band before This is Why was a surprising success. The album differentiated itself from its predecessors and introduced a new, brighter tone.
It was the band’s way of telling their listeners that they could achieve other styles of music, and that they were good at it. “Hard Times,” the main track on the album, piloted the imaginary cheerfulness of After Laughter, and helped to accentuate the band’s new style.
Instead of improving on this already successful new style of music or experimenting more, Paramore decided to reach back a decade or so and try to revive the emo-pop-punk music that was suited for the 2000s. Unfortunately for them, this revival only came off as bland and unwelcome.
This idea is exhibited by the title track of the album, “This is Why.” The song certainly defines the disappointments that come with the album as a whole by portraying a monotonous beat and boring repetition. And to top the cake, “This is Why” also contains a too-long 30-second instrumental intro and an odd call-and-response of a bridge. The song is okay, but in relation to Paramore’s smash hits that came before it, it pales in comparison.
Although this review mostly focuses on the inadequate aspects of This is Why, there are a few songs that save the album from being a complete disaster. These songs are “C’est Comme Ça” and “Liar.”
“C’est Comme Ça” is a dancy eccentric song that uses talk-singing and fast guitar riffs to carry it to greatness. The song is original, exciting, and honestly just very fun. It’s fairly simplistic, but this weirdly helps rather than hinders the song’s message—“that’s just how it is”. The peculiar choice to sing the chorus in French is interesting, as well, and keeps listeners hooked, as many of them have to Google-translate the lyrics to fully understand the message of the song.
“Liar” is a beautiful ballad highlighted by the fact that it is placed between two of the worst songs in the tracklist (“Figure 8” and “Crave”). The instrumentals blend in perfectly with lead singer Hayley Williams’s voice; both sound ridiculously alluring, whispering to the listeners the message of the song. “Liar” details Williams' relationship with fellow band member, Taylor York, and how the singer was scared to admit her feelings for him. The song is a heavenly masterpiece crafted to be an apologizing love song. “Liar” is truly the best song on This is Why, and is the main reason the album is cemented as mediocre instead of bad.
“C’est Comme Ça”
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Contact Riley Nower with comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.