‘This Is Why’ review: Paramore

This Is Why is the sixth studio album by American rock band Paramore. Their last release was six years ago, so this album has been a long time coming. And I don’t think it disappoints.

The band – formed of lead singer and songwriter Hayley Williams, drummer Zac Farro, and guitarist Taylor York – have departed from the 80s synth-pop style of After Laughter in 2017 and have brought us an energetic record rooted in post-punk. With a focus on punchy powerhouse vocals, striking guitar riffs, offbeat rhythms, and an overall sense of urgency, This Is Why certainly captures your attention.

In keeping with the usual anxieties found in the band’s lyrics, This Is Why deals with a new set of worries: trying to navigate life post-pandemic and its effect on the cohort of millennials and Gen Z-ers. The opening track, This Is Why, features Williams’ snappy singing of lyrics like ‘’This is why I don’t leave the house / You say the coast is clear / But you won’t catch me out’’ – voicing what many of us might still be going through, in fear of Covid. 

Along a similar train of thought, The News, Running Out Of Time and C’est Comme Ça, continue with this direct delivery of new anxieties with energetic music to accompany. I like how despite the lyrical frankness and seriousness; the band still manage to create enjoyable music that you could very easily hear on the dancefloor. 

Towards the end of the album – in particular the last three tracks – the music takes a different turn. Williams’ singing becomes less abrupt and more sentimental, and she establishes a kind of pop dream-world. Chris Thiessen of Under the Radar notes that the back half of the album feels totally different to the front, it is ‘more personal and relational’. Liar and Crave are the more vulnerable tracks on the record, with a therapeutic feel to them. I think the addition of these tracks at the end make for a striking transformation in mood; after projecting her anger and stress at the world in the first part of the album, Williams engages in another kind of healing by the end: vulnerability. These different kinds of healing processes scattered throughout the album also reflect the chaos that is trying to navigate life.

Using their music as a means for personal growth, Paramore have produced quite a unique record – lyrically as well as musically. I’m usually not a rock/punk fan, but I was impressed with This Is Why. Williams has a captivating voice which I think contributes to the band’s success. But not just that; the music is actually really good – I can imagine myself dancing and singing along. What Paramore have done well with This Is Why, is the combination of lyrical intensity and maturity with genuinely good music. Navigating the world is difficult, but maybe it’s easier when done through music.   

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