Review: Paramore’s ‘This Is Why’ – Spin or skip?

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José C. Delgado, Reporter

Paramore has returned with their sixth studio album, “This Is Why.” The album marks the band’s first release since 2017’s “After Laughter,” and is the first record to feature the same lineup on consecutive releases in the band’s history.

In a tweet posted to the band’s official account, Paramore discussed the themes that would be touched upon throughout the record. These themes range from agoraphobia to dissociation and resignation.

On this record, the pop-punk veterans delve into elements of post-punk and dance-punk to deliver an album that consistently and concisely tackles the themes previously mentioned, while being able to keep each song feeling fresh.

“This Is Why”
The title track and lead single opens the album. In an interview with NME, lead singer Hayley Williams said that the song summarizes “the plethora of ridiculous emotions and the rollercoaster of being alive in 2022, having survived even just the last 3 or 4 years.”

In the song, Williams delivers a few verses with quiet vocals that utilize the instrumentals and allow the song to explode on the choruses. Williams sings, “This is why I don’t leave the house/ You say the coast is clear/ But you won’t catch me out.” Against boisterous guitars and drums, Williams’ delivery of the chorus is strategic in relaying the song’s message.

This impressive opener leaves the listener interested in seeing what direction the band will go in for the rest of the record.

“The News”
The second track continues in a similar fashion as its predecessor. Williams discusses the downfalls of overstimulation from living in a society with a 24-hour news cycle.

This track starts immediately with a blaring guitar riff that sounds like an alarm going off.
The band gives an impressive performance, but the song loses steam towards the end with a bridge where Williams’ vocals sound like spoken words and don’t fit in with the sonic direction of the track.

“Running Out Of Time”
One of the more dance-punk style songs on the record, “Running Out Of Time” tackles Williams’ dissatisfaction with the disorganization of her own life.

The punchy bass line quickly sets the tempo for the track as its jumpy nature evokes a sense of being “all over the place.” In the verses, Williams sings about making attempts to be a good person, but ultimately falling short due to a lack of time. She tops this off with a pre-chorus where she sings, “Intentions only get you so far/ What if I’m just a selfish prick? No regard, ah.”

The pace of this song helps it stand on its own, and when put alongside the rest of the record, it brings a different feel. This standout song has the potential to be the main hit from this record.

“C’est Comme Ça”
This is the shortest song on the record, clocking in at two minutes and 29 seconds. “C’est comme ça” translates from French to, “It is what it is.”

While the chorus of this song is repetitive, the energy Williams brings saves it from turning the listener away. Her spoken-word vocals on the verses sound much better on this song than on “The News.”

The rawness of this song is very interesting and helps add something new to the record.

“Big Man, Little Dignity”
This is in my opinion the best song on the album. The band’s post-punk elements are best shown on this track. From the band’s instrumentals and Williams’ vocal performance to the song’s composition, this song is tied together perfectly.

The guitar work on this track stands out, from the plucky rhythm to the strong lead on the chorus. A very light synthesizer also backs up both Williams and the guitar on the chorus.

Williams’ vocals throughout this track hit the mark in terms of relaying her message and translating her emotions properly. In an interview with Billboard, the band revealed that the song is about men who are not held accountable for their actions.

“You First”
Here, Williams confronts the struggle of choosing between the good and bad within herself.

When compared to the other tracks that sound similar to this one, “You First” seems to fall short of what the rest accomplished. While songs like the title track and “C’est Comme Ça” are able to build up to a much bigger song, this one attempts the same but ends up sounding a little flat.

Unfortunately, another questionable bridge toward the end derails what the song had previously built up. The vocals are fine on the bridge, but the lyrics are eye-rolling and only live up to what has been displayed.

“Figure 8”
In “Figure 8,” Williams addresses a toxic relationship she found herself in, referring to how she would do anything for this person. But she was taken advantage of, leaving her distressed.

The song is one of the more interesting in terms of composition. Utilizing a vibraphone to set the first melody, the song draws the listener in immediately. The instrument is heard throughout the verses, leading to a scathing guitar riff. Over the guitar, Williams sings, “Yeah, once you get me going/ (I don’t know how to stop, I don’t know how to stop)/ Once you get me going/ (I don’t know how to stop, I don’t know how to).”

The unique approach in the instrumentals is what gives this song the edge over one like “You First.” This is one of the stronger tracks on the album through its experimentation, adding different sounds to the record.

As the album enters its final act, it presents three more laid-back tracks – a welcome departure from the front of the record. In “Liar,” Williams sings about denial and repression of feelings she was developing for a person.

The instrumentals are very somber as she confronts these feelings and takes the blame for suppressing them. Her vocals help convey her pain, as she tries to convince herself the feelings weren’t valid. Yet, the chorus of the song offers a sense of certainty that both she and her partner knew was right all along.

Using this as a bridge between the louder songs and the rest of the record gives it more meaning in terms of helping the album flow better. This song is another standout, with its meaningful lyrics and overall importance to the record.

The penultimate track is a melancholic ode to the feeling of wanting to live in the moment, but having to embrace that these moments are fleeting.

The song contrasts the ninth track on “After Laughter” titled “Caught in the Middle,” where Williams battles the fear of seeing the years going past her. In “Crave,” Williams is okay with the past being the past and looks back at those times fondly. Displaying the band’s growth between records adds to the narrative of this album.

Through the verses, the track’s creeping guitar carries Williams’ singing nicely, not interfering with the vocals and allowing tension to build for the choruses.

“Thick Skull”
On the final track, Taylor York’s guitar and the drums of Zac Farro clash together, without intruding on Williams’ singing.
In the slowest song on the record, Williams reflects on the backlash she received as the band’s frontwoman. Her vocal performance shows her sadness and frustration through it all. The passion in her delivery exudes pain and brings the track together.

The soul-crushing final chorus is a great closer for the record. Williams laid everything down vocally as the band concluded their final record under their current contract with Atlantic Records.

Overall, Paramore comes together to deliver a very strong record, despite being at this stage of their careers and being six years removed from their last album. While it is a quick listen, clocking in at just over 36 minutes, it’s still able to touch on many topics effectively. “This Is Why” is worthy of a spin.