In a mixing pot of influences, veterans Paramore escape their storied past through brevity and quality.
In the six years since the Nashville band’s previous critically acclaimed effort, After Laughter, much has changed, both for the three members (this is the first time Paramore has retained a band line-up for successive records) and for the world.
Enter This Is Why, a sub-40 minute, 10-track rollercoaster where the band’s recurring musical heritage propels the present frustrations, micro and macro, of vocalist and lyricist Hayley Williams. This melting pot harnesses the angular, dry patterns of Blondie and Talking Heads (such as on title track C’est Comme Ça), the jagged and urgent rhythms of Bloc Party (The News), or even the restrained, angry warmth of Mirage era Fleetwood Mac (Big Man, Little Dignity), creating an impermeable set of songs. It celebrates the music that the band clearly loves and admires as a catalyst for their own artistic expression, while finding new ground between those influences. Nowhere is this more evident than on album highlight Crave, a Incubus-inspired track full of longing, where Williams’ vocals simultaneously soar and scratch throughout the song’s anthemic chorus, in complete reflection of both restraint and desire.
Such a potent mix is fostered by the band (composition under the top-line melody is handled solely by band members Taylor York and Zac Farro), and its brevity is attained by the album’s snappy length, so that nothing feels unnecessary or meandering. This insistency is present in the album’s lyrical positions, too. A new political focus is found front-and-centre on This Is Why’s track list, fuelled by the helplessness of a world at war, such as on The News, and post-Covid cynicism on its title track.
Paramore are a band who wish to break free from the constraints of their infamy as seen through a nostalgic lens, yet here we see a band capable of harnessing nostalgia while still feeling distinct and new. They sound assured, crucial, and at the masthead of a 15-year career now free of second-guessing; a band no longer mired in questions of irrelevancy, but as prominent figures of alternative and rock music, just like their myriad heroes.