After a tumultuous couple of years, Paramore is back with the release of their new, self-titled album. Since the exit of guitarist and drummer, brothers Josh and Zac Farro, the band has not released any full-length albums. However, with only two original members still in the game, Paramore’s fourth album clearly gives a complete reinvention. The trio—consisting of Hayley Williams on vocals, Jeremy Davis on bass, and Taylor York on guitar—has provided a new sound as the soundtrack to Paramore’s next chapter.
Let me preface this by saying; I am a huge Paramore fan. Since their debut album, I have been an avid listener, loving Hayley Williams’ fluctuating voice and hair colors just like everyone else. That being said, with the departure of the Farro brothers, this album made me nervous. Their integrity, in my eyes at least, was jeopardized. Nevertheless, after listening to Paramore, I found myself humming along to the catchy patterns of songs like “Now” and “Still Into You” almost immediately. Williams offers as an infectious chorus as ever. Once again, the pop/rock vibe has prevailed with melodies that I can only imagine thousands of teenaged girls singing along to in the very near future.
Yet, entertainment factor aside, this album fails as a musical masterpiece. Where previous Paramore albums provided complex musical structures and impressive technology to enhance the sound, Paramore is simpler musically and way over polished, coming off a little less Yeah Yeah Yeahs and a little more Avril Lavigne. Lacking the intensity of previous albums, tracks like “Proof” try to trick the listener into thinking they are impressed, but are really just showcasing the latest abilities of ProTools. Even Hayley Williams’ vocals are not as striking as they had been in the past. Overall, Paramore seems less like a well-respected band, and more like a cheap knockoff.
All things considered, Paramore is a good album. With a skeletal lineup and a higher reputation to protect, it’s understandable why synthesizers and over production were relied upon. The key to listening to this album, however, is to realize that the Paramore of today is not that of five years ago; it truly is a whole new band. I cannot say I don’t like this record and that I won’t be singing along in my car for months to come, I just cannot compare it to the Paramore of the past. Paramore is a bona fide pop-rock album; simply just not what every fan will be looking for in the return of a legendary indie-rock band.
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