Saturday, February 11, 2023

Review: This is Why • Paramore


Resurgence. Revival. Renaissance. Pick a cliché, apparently one beginning with the letter R, and it’s probably been leveraged as an accurate description for whatever is happening with American rock band Paramore right now. After almost a decade of turbulence and digressions – like major beef with a former bassist and a silly cancellation over the band’s signature hit – the band snapped back into place last year. “Misery Business” was reintroduced into their repertoire by way of Billie Eilish and Olivia Rodrigo, Twilight soundtrack pinnacle “Decode” was rightfully resurrected with a streaming release, and most importantly, they announced plans for their first new record in six years.

Built upon the fundamentals of post-punk and alt-rock, This is Why finds Hayley Williams disjointed and disappointed. Despite her reputation for unleashing ground-rattling belts and roars – and she’s still got it, on cuts like the doom-riddled, vengeful “You First” – she often throttles her voice down to a snarl: “If you have an opinion, maybe you should shove it,” she opens the record in an uneasy, tumbling melody, on a borderline paranoid statement piece that became its title track. And even when the band gives playfulness a go, on “C'est Comme Ça,” it’s purposefully tuned to track toward unsettling: Gum-smacking “na-na-na-na” hooks are bookended with deep, faux Brit-accented spoken poetry on carrying on life in a disordered society.

Instant Paramore essential “Figure 8” or even the panicked “The News” may placate stubborn purists who long for the days of pre-Paramore Paramore, but beyond that, This is Why once again redefines a band that long abandoned the concept of definition anyway. The album listens not like the battle cry of a band at war, as they so often did before, but as the postmortem documentary of learning to accept life in the miserable aftermath. “Might get easier, but you don’t get used to it. Keep on autopilot,” she advises on “Thick Skull,” a sweeping finale from a band that rocks hard, occasionally self-soothes, and above all, consistently displays self-awareness in its current circumstances.

This is Why is available now under Atlantic Records.

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