Williams Delivers ‘More’

Courtesy of Fueled by Ramen

Courtesy of Fueled by Ramen

The past five years have been turbulent for Tennessee pop-punk band, Paramore. Turmoil and personal issues resulted in the cancellation of European tours in 2008, and in December 2010, these tribulations came to a head when brothers Josh and Zac Farro quit the band.

After many interviews and press releases detailing reasons for this split, Paramore now consists of singer Hayley Williams, guitarist Taylor York and bassist Jeremy Davis. More than three years after the release of 2009’s “Brand New Eyes,” the band unveiled their much-anticipated, 17-track, self-entitled album “Paramore.”

The record kicks off with “Fast In My Car,” a song with a title reminding us of Tracy Chapman and whose heavy drums and distorted riffs are reminiscent of Fall Out Boy and Blondie. The upbeat “Ain’t It Fun” displays a new funk-infused sound for the band and even concludes with a chorus singing, “Don’t go crying to your mama when you’re on your own.” The passionate singing, melodic guitar, booming bass and relentless drums of “Part II” illustrate Paramore’s breadth and versatility, and hauntingly garner the band a sound similar to label-mates, VersaEmerge.

Even though this album is a step out of the messy last five years, remnants of this difficult time remain. The song “Grow Up” features the lyrics “Some of us have to grow up sometimes / And so, if I have to I’m gonna leave you behind.” “Last Hope” describes, “I don’t even know myself at all / I thought I’d be happy by now.” And the God Is an Astronaut-inspired “Future” advises, “Just think of the future and think of your dreams / You’ll get away from here, you’ll get away eventually.”

To old and loyal Paramore listeners, this new music may prove interesting to adjust to. These listeners will especially enjoy the songs “Now,” “Still Into You” and “Be Alone,” which capture the band’s infectious classic sound.

The album also includes three interludes featuring only Williams’s singing, bass guitar and a ukulele titled, “Moving On,” “Holiday” and “I’m Not Angry Anymore.” These tracks come off almost as Williams’s journal entries concerning the band’s disorders and her own thoughts. While not necessary or particularly momentous, these interludes contrast well with the rest of the songs.

“Paramore” signifies a change in the music and perhaps a new direction for the band. The absence of the Farro brothers is noticeable in the music. This is not vintage Paramore. The meaningful lyrics of “Let the Flames Begin” and “Playing God,” and the powerful riffs and beats of the guitars and drums in “Careful” and “Ignorance,” and the components of the sound that have come to define Paramore in the past eight years, are seen only in short spurts throughout this new album.

Understandably, “Paramore” does not present the same band we see in their previous three albums. The music is not bad, it’s damn good actually, but it is different. This is a step forward for the band, a good sign for their talent as musicians, but this is not the form in which I enjoy them most. I am a fan of classic Paramore, and while I can appreciate the musicianship of their new record, I am aware that the powerful, cutting sound that drew me to them in 2007 is largely absent from it here.

Recommended for Paramore fans that don’t mind experiencing a new sound.