Paramore’s highly anticipated album This is Why finally dropped this past Friday, Feb. 10, and emos everywhere are rejoicing at the band’s iconic return.
This is Why is a striking album, with refreshing hints of indie-rock and ‘90s grunge. It kicks off with singles “This is Why,” “The News,” and “C’est Comme Va” as tracks 1, 2, and 4, respectively, all of which start the album with angsty energy bubbling through Hayley William’s growly vocals, Taylor York’s eclectic guitar riffs, and Zac Farro’s kinetic drumming.
As I wrote in my review of their latest single, “‘C’est Comme Ca’ follows in the footsteps of the titular album song ‘This is Why,’ which encapsulates the pressures of existing in the public eye, and ‘The News,’ a relevant political commentary on the anxiety associated with watching catastrophic current events on the news.”
In the past few months leading up to the release of This Is Why, Paramore fed us a taste of the most chaotic tracks on the album— and while I had mixed feelings about them, it’s safe to say that the rest of the album drastically outperforms these three singles.
The third track, “Running Out of Time,” starts out with a surf-rock guitar riff that sounds exactly like the SpongeBob Squarepants closing theme song. Once you get past the Bikini Bottom-esque intro, the rest of the song is catchy, fun, and relatable. The lyrics, “I hit the snooze on my alarm twenty times / But I was just so tired / There was traffic, spilled my coffee, crashed my car, otherwise / would’ve been here on time,” perfectly describes my daily commute to school.
The album starts to simmer down in angst (but not too much) as we get to the midway point of the album, “Big Man, Little Dignity.” My current favorite off the album, this song begins with a slow, soothing flute intro before picking up with a nifty guitar riff. The groove reminds me of “Pool” from their ‘80s-inspired album After Laughter, though “Big Man, Little Dignity” inches more towards a ‘90s rock sound.
Like “Pool,” this catchy song seems to be about William’s ex-husband, New Found Glory guitarist Chad Gilbert. The rasp in Williams’ voice as she sings, “No offense, but you got no integrity” is the cherry on top of a delicious song.
Although “You First,” opens with a guitar riff that resembles a warning alarm, it doesn’t quite capture my attention until the chorus, where Williams sings about Karma and revenge—the fun stuff. This song, along with “Figure 8,” and “Crave,” fades into the background upon first listen, though they’re all tracks that will surely age like fine wine.
The sweetest song off the album is the eighth track, “Liar”: a ballad about Williams’ feelings of denial about falling in love with bandmate Taylor York. Williams makes a lyrical allusion to her song “Crystal Clear” off her debut solo album, also about her feelings for York. Ever since the pair confirmed in September that they coupled up, I expected to hear some more Paramore love songs on the album. But, this one will surely do for now.
The album concludes with “Thick Skull,” a raw hypnotic ballad that snowballs into a dynamic fusion of roaring vocals and a handsome guitar solo. It reminds me of “All I Wanted,” the final track from their 2009 album Brand New Eyes, which also strips its layers like a Russian Doll as the band progresses verse by verse.
While I’m disappointed that This is Why ends at a meager 10 tracks, this album feels soothing, nostalgic, and angsty all at once, a feat only Paramore can achieve. After a genre shift in 2017, Paramore once again feels like Paramore—but this album feels breathtaking and fresh, like nothing this trio has ever done before. Each song on the album will surely translate well live—something I’m looking forward to when I see them at Madison Square Garden on May 30.
Overall, This is Why is a coherent, well-balanced album that feels like a perfectly wrapped, angst-filled gift. However, I find myself craving the real heart of the record—the comforting, indie-rock masterpieces that fit snugly between all the chaos.