Is The Group's New Album Up To Par?
By Sabrina Kenoun
We’ve been in the ‘business of misery’ alongside Hayley Williams and co. since she and bandmates Taylor York and Zac Farro (as well as departed members Josh Farro and Jeremey Davis) released their first studio album ‘All We Know is Falling’ in 2005; but little did we know that we’d still be here almost 20 years later, and two members down for the band’s most recent record release ‘This is Why’.
The band’s sixth studio album, released alongside Fueled by Ramen and Atlantic Records, was announced on February 9, just 24 hours before dropping onto our streaming platforms. In a heartfelt Instagram post, the group thanked fans for “sticking by them in the 5.5 years between ‘This is Why’ and their fifth album ‘After Laughter’”, dedicating the release to the fanbase. They also expressed that the album was for anyone who had felt a sense of isolation, helplessness, and even agoraphobia in those years – especially in the times of the pandemic.
An Ode to the Media and Ourselves
The album opens with ‘This is Why’, the album’s namesake, which immediately sets the hauntingly real tone that comes with the whole of the record. The first notes are incredibly jazzy and reminiscent of the previous “After Laughter,” with the opening lines reminding listeners to keep their opinions to themselves amid harsh critics, with the chorus stating: “This is why I don’t leave the house/You say the coast is clear, but you won’t catch me out”: taking us back to the COVID days and promptly leading us into “This is Why”’s leading single: “The News.”
As cliché as it is to call a leading single one’s favorite, this has to be one of mine. With a collection of songs so reminiscent of the pandemic, it’s pretty self-explanatory what Paramore has to say about the media in this hit. Williams and the group express their distaste for the constant cycle of misinformation (or often partial information) that spouts from traditional news outlets; which was impressive and jarring for the listener upon first pass.
But what excited me most was the fact that “The News” felt nostalgically similar to the group’s sophomore and junior albums “Riot!” and “Brand New Eyes” with its inclination towards a pop-punk sound. The tracklist often bounces between the pop-punk and jazzy-funk genres, creating a kind of organized chaos that appeals to any listening ear, but especially to those of us who have remained fans since Paramore’s early days. Especially after being shocked by the funky transition from the self-titled rock album to “After Laughter’, “This is Why” is perfect for fans who were fond of the previous record but often find themselves missing the “old Paramore.”
The trio must also be commended for their storytelling capabilities once again. As we go through the album, there tends to be a sense of disconnect and then closure once we reach the tenth and final track “Thick Skull,” reminding us that sometimes we just can’t get through to everyone.
Williams’ raspy singing voice blends into the eeriness of the album nicely, even adding a kind of dissonance to her singing that fans haven’t seen since the “Riot!” days (somewhere in the distance, the concert outro to “Let the Flames Begin” is playing). Combined with the sprightly tones of York’s guitar and Farro’s handiwork on the drums, this has made for a complete masterpiece.
I will be honest, as someone who has been a hardcore fan since their teenage years and was a little disheartened by the genre shift in “After Laughter,” I was just a little scared for the release of “This is Why.” But this album has proven that my longtime love for my favorite band has not, in fact, been lost. If like me, you’re hoping for something new that also has elements of the pop-punk roots that raised us. This record is definitely a must-listen. And once that’s over, I’ll hope you’ll join me in saying that this was not, in fact, a phase, mom.
Paramore: This Is Why (2023) Official Atlantic Records Music Video