With the dwindling number of artists left in pop-punk band Paramore, things seem to have worked out for the best, as the band’s new self-titled album – released last Tuesday – shows.
The 17-track compilation is the arguably the most mature and ambitious of all the group’s four studio albums, despite the bitter absence of two of the band’s founding members.
Lead singer Hayley Williams grabs the track list by the horns, exhibiting less tween-influenced music than the band’s break-through album “Riot!” The other members follow her lead, particularly in the appropriately-titled “Grow Up.” Channeling No Doubt, the band uses heavy synthesizers and dance-floor-worthy guitar riffs.
Williams also seems to take advantage of such a long album to give the proverbial middle finger with “Interlude: Moving On” to former band mates Josh and Zac Farro, who left Paramore on a sour note, speaking out on their blog against Williams. A short, sweet and to-the-point combination of Williams’ vocals and a ukulele, the song reminds those who have wronged her that, “I could be angry, but you’re not worth a fight. And besides, I’m moving on.”
Something else that hasn’t been present in the Paramore scope is the sound of decades past. However, the bouncy ’80s-esque funk groove they use in “Ain’t It Fun” works – particularly when infused with layers of gospel choirs intertwined with Williams’ vocals.
Most recognizable on the album is the group’s first single, “Now.” The song is incredibly busy, thus displaying itself as a nervy and far less safe choice for the band’s introduction to this new fusion of sounds. Industrial chords and disconnected melodies make for a much angrier and forceful sounding band than the angsty teen melodies heard in previous albums.
Arguably one of the most exuberant track on the album is “Still Into You” – a song that celebrates the fun of long-lasting love without becoming a painfully strained ballad. More staccato and memorable guitar riffs await to become stuck in listeners’ heads, even if they don’t yet know the words to the actual song.
For some fans, the album may bring of thoughts of “What were they thinking?” as many of the tracks don’t make for a smooth overall listening experience. The album can feel all over the place if listeners plan to play the entire album in one sitting, but it does seem that that was the ultimate goal for the trio. With new members comes a new sound, and who can blame them for having a little fun while trying to find that sound.
Minor moments of musical confusion are easily covered by William’s still-powerful and ever-evolving vocals.
While 64 minutes may be a bit excessive for an album, Paramore had the space to display its varying influences and experiences in the release of the album. But the experimental nature is one step up toward the next chapter of the band’s career.