Paramore is a band that has seen its fair share of ups and downs. When they burst onto the scene in 2005 with their debut album “All We Know Is Failing,” everyone instantly fell in love with Hayley Williams’ powerful vocals. It was almost impossible not to be impressed by that voice coming from a teenager, and with each passing year, she’s only gotten better.
Of course, as it happens with most bands, the group ran into a skid a few years ago. Lead guitarist Josh Farro and drummer Zac Farro left the band in 2010, and the break-up was not pretty. Josh Farro attacked Williams in a statement, but Williams and the band deflected it with poise.
Paramore’s latest effort, a self-titled release and its first since the departure of the Farros, has its issues, just as the band has had over the years. However, despite those issues, the band has managed to find a new sound while staying somewhat true to its roots. It’s a welcome addition to their discography.
The early tracks contain at least traces of what put the band on the map. “Fast In My Car” and “Now” sound like the Paramore of old, albeit a massively more produced version. “Grow Up,” with its infectious lyrics, is a testament to the band’s attempt to evolve as they’ve grown together. Even “Daydreaming” sounds like it could’ve belonged on the band’s debut album.
However, some songs just don’t fit the band’s mold. Take for example the three acoustic songs meant to glue the album together. “Moving On,” “Holiday” and “I’m Not Angry Anymore,” just don’t sound like Paramore. What they tried to do was an interesting idea, but it was such a far cry that it warranted nothing more than a brief listen and skip. That’s pretty bad when none of the songs break the two-minute mark.
“Hate To See Your Heart Break” is a slow-paced song with wonderful lyrics, but it sounds more like a country song. Granted, Williams got her start in Nashville, so it seems inevitable that country would seep its way into Paramore’s sound, but it just doesn’t sound right.
Other songs sound like an entirely new version of Paramore. “Ain’t It Fun” might be said to borrow its sound from an old Paula Abdul song, “Straight Up.” It is, for lack of a better word, a fun song. “(One of Those) Crazy Girls” comes across as a female-led Weezer song. Of course, Weezer is amazing, so the song is hard not to like.
“Part II” is a combination of lyrics from previous songs on previous albums and original lyrics. It’s always fun when bands revisit old material in an inventive way, and Paramore had a lot to work with for this song. It comes across really well, with elements from each of their studio release, but primarily from “Let The Flames Begin” from “Riot!”
The rest of the album bounces around between the categories listed above. It fits, or it doesn’t, or it’s completely new, in which case, you’ll have to decide for yourself whether or not you think it belongs under the Paramore umbrella. The simple truth is this: Unless you are a die-hard fan of Paramore, it’s going to take multiple playthroughs to reconcile this version of the band with the one you’ve come to know and love.
In the end, we want our bands to evolve. We want them to change their sound somewhat so that we don’t get bored with them. Paramore just took it to the edge this time. Give this one a shot, but temper your expectations.