Paramore's forth studio album is finally here!
We've been waiting a long time for Paramore's self-titled fourth album, the group's first as a trio. Despite the smaller lineup, Hayley Williams, Jeremy Davis, and Taylor York have created their most ambitious effort yet, a 17-song set -- dare I say masterpiece? -- that ranges from the band's signature punk anthems to dance floor-ready tracks (and maybe even Celine Dion covers). Yes, Paramore has a lot to say: Let's hear it.
Read our track-by-track review of Paramore's Paramore after the jump.
1.) "Fast in My Car": Paramore keeps up its tradition of killer openers, with Williams laying down the album's biggest lesson in the wake of the Farro brothers' departure after Brand New Eyes: "We had to learn how to deal." One of Paramore's key themes is reality vs. escape, and "Fast In My Car" offers release from the gritty verses once the chorus hits the road.
2.) "Now": Producer Justin Meldal-Johnson shows his hand here, lending the band his churning industrial sound. The chorus guitars are the biggest Paramore's ever sounded, and with that might behind them, instead of running away, the band stands and fights: "There's a time and place to die, but this ain't it," Williams wails.
3.) "Grow Up": Here, the band swerves into new territory: synthesizers float, electronic fuzz blasts and flutters, and a mid-tempo guitar riff sounds almost ready for the dance floor. It's the kind of shift No Doubt nailed before them, and Paramore lives up to their former tour partners' example. Williams even lets some winking humor slip into her ode to adulthood: "We get along for the most part/me and reality," she sings.
4.) "Daydreaming": Songs with "dream" in the title always make me think about The Cranberries, but this track actually goes back to the '90s dream-pop heyday, with stormy guitar chords and wind-blown synths. When the chorus hits, it's a thunderclap.
5.) "Interlude: Moving On": Just Williams and a ukelele, the first of the album's three acoustic interludes is a kiss-off to people who've wronged her (guess who?): "Let 'em spill their guts, 'cause one day they're gonna slip on 'em." The battleground of "Now" has been cleared out for brighter days: "I could be angry, but you're not worth a fight/ and besides, I'm moving on," Williams sings with a summer's worth of vitamin D.
6.) "Ain't It Fun": Dance party in the studio! Done daydreaming, Paramore's having fun "living in the real world" -- sarcastic lyrics that mask any irony with staccato funk that'd impress Justin Timberlake. I'm surprised he doesn't show up halfway when a gospel choir joins Williams for a soulful refrain. How do we get Paramore to start covering Whitney Houston?
7.) "Part II": If the band's been wandering far from home on these early tracks, they make it back in time for dinner on "Part II," a song that builds chugging chords into the kind of rushing chorus Paramore always crushes. Even here, the band's expanded palette shows -- listen carefully for little electronic tones in between York's distortion assault.
8.) "Last Hope": Williams gets vulnerable as York's guitar drops the distortion: "I don't even know myself at all/ I thought I would be happy by now," she sings, before realizing she has to let go. The darkness and maturity of the album's first half starts to give way to the sunshine. "It's just a spark, but it's enough to keep me going," she sings, leaving room for sing-alongs that should close every set the band plays from now on.
9.) "Still Into You": Dance-y Paramore returns on the album's second single, a gleaming track that gets butterflies and celebrates true love lasting: "After all this time, I'm still into you," Williams sings, giddy and nervous. It's adorable.
10.) "Anklebiters": A fuzzy, scrappy track that starts in The Strokes' garage and kicks away the haters: "Why do you care what people think?" Williams rips. Good question. Turn this one up loud enough and for 2 minutes and 17 seconds, you won't.
11.) "Interlude: Holiday": "High school drama, graduated with honors," Williams sings on the album's second interlude. Hayley Williams: funny songwriter! While the first interlude started moving on, this one -- back to the uke -- pictures her grown up, drinking coffee, reading the paper, and heading out on vacation. "I don't plan on coming back," she sings as the music drifts away.
12.) "Proof": The song opens with the cold metal of a machine gun riff, with militant drums marching underneath in one of the album's hardest rockers. "If I'm a woman with no fear just like I claim I am/ Then I'll believe in what you say," Williams sings, and the track shows its softer side with a slowed-down ska bridge: "Do you love me? All you gotta do is say yes."
13.) "Hate To See Your Heart Break": Paramore have made their sweetest track ever, with a particularly gentle Williams vocal bathed in strings and twinkling guitar notes. If anyone else could sing this song, it would be Adele or Celine Dion -- leave it to Paramore to drop a gorgeous ballad one track after proving their rock power.
14.) "(One of Those) Crazy Girls": Williams takes a page from her pals in Best Coast on a romantic, retro track that's all Hawaiian breeze and '50s pop drama. When the electric guitars rush in like a tidal wave, it's as much fun as golden-era Weezer. If this is a breakup song, Paramore couldn't be happier about it.
15.) "Interlude: I'm Not Angry Any More": If the band's changing mood isn't clear by now, Williams spells it out in the 52-second track: "I'm not angry any more, well sometimes I am," she sings. "I don't think badly of you, well, sometimes I do/ It depends on the day." And today's a good one.
16.) "Be Alone": The group's not done rocking just yet! "Be Alone" takes what could be an angry farewell and twists the line: "You should be alone/ You should be alone/ with me," Williams sing-snarls in a request that sounds more like a demand. At this point, the band could ask for my first-born child and I'd probably hand him or her over.
17.) "Future": The Weezer influence waves again on "Future," an album closer that recalls the lengthy, moody finale of The Blue Album's "Only in Dreams." "Just think of the future and think of your dreams," Williams sings, both to herself and listeners who've taken this journey with her. "You'll get away from here/ you'll get away eventually." The acoustic buildup is patient and lovely, the band playing with ambient textures before York's electric ax returns as a fire-breathing dragon, bellowing and soaring over the scorched earth left by "Now." After Paramore's pop excursions, it's a conclusion that reminds us where they've come from -- and where they might head next.
Photo credit: Fueled by Ramen