Paramore has returned with a new sound and album, after nearly six years. The American rock band’s sixth studio album “This is Why” expands upon the maturity first demonstrated in their previous work “After Laughter.” It tackles feelings of agoraphobia, righteous rage, apathy — confusion between selfishness and self-preservation, nostalgia for things you haven’t experienced yet, and resignation.
Each new album from Paramore has a new sound, leaving some fans yearning for tracks that are truer to their pop punk roots. “This is Why” draws influence from Bloc Party, and brings the band’s music to new heights previously unexplored. The album falls into the punk genre, primarily post-punk, and alternative rock — which is a natural progression of the maturation of both the band and their music.
In line with their experimentation with new sounds, the album features a first for the band, with “C’est Comme Ca” being their first ever time using talk-singing as a motif on a song. While this inclusion was a nice change of pace, I was glad to find that it did not permeate throughout the album, as it would be a tragedy to rob us of lead singer Hayley Williams’ powerhouse vocals (which truly makes every track shine).
Despite the new sound, “This is Why” does feature songs that return to a semblance of the sound Paramore had originally exploded onto the scene with nearly 20 years ago. The tracks “You First,” “Figure 8,” “The News,” and the titular “This is Why” strive to give fans an inkling of their old sound while remaining amazingly fresh — and succeed at both. The latter half of the album’s songs draw upon the emotional depth of Williams’ solo albums with songs such as “Thick Skull,” “Crave,” and “Liar.”
Let it be noted that even though the album does feature a kind of partial return to their roots, the album itself is not Paramore returning to their old sound and, honestly, that is for the best — to completely regress to the same sound they skyrocketed to popularity with, while initially crowd-pleasing, would be a disservice to both the band and the fans. “This is Why” carries on the torch left by “After Laughter” and gives listeners much food for thought about the complexities of life that we face as we grow.
Thematically, the album also taps into post-pandemic anxieties. Each song on its own tackles a new theme; “This is Why” covers feelings of agoraphobia. “Liar” covers love and lying to protect those you love from yourself. There’s also “You First,” which covers rage, and a recognition that maybe the best revenge is doing better, and “Crave,” which covers the feeling of wanting to hold onto a moment that has already passed or hasn’t even happened yet. The album does strike a more emotional chord towards its end, a shift from the more energetic songs that make up the front half. At first, it felt a little out of place, but ultimately helped draw the album together into the masterpiece that it is.
“This is Why” is potentially my favorite Paramore album, and this is coming from a die-hard Parawhore of nearly ten years. The album features all of the good things associated with Paramore throughout the years regardless of sound, from Williams’ absolutely awe-inspiring vocals, to hard-hitting lyrics, and to songs that are just so damn catchy you can’t help but think about them all the time. The album features a new maturity from the group that its aging fanbase can find themselves within, and proves my long-held belief that Paramore is the perfect band to age with. Overall, “This is Why” may be a new sound for the band, and may have left some fans wanting more, but it’s still the slay that was needed.