Paramore gaze upon their loyal fans with brand new eyes.
Paramore’s new album is indeed purposeful. You can see that by just looking at the artwork. They have a point to make. And they make it well.
This is all too evident. The pointed use of lower case lettering in the album title. From the prominently dismembered and mounted butterfly on the cover to the tormented song titles, ‘Ignorance’ ‘Feeling Sorry’ and ‘Turn It Off’ the angst and cynicism has been amplified. Paramore have grown up.
After building a devoted fan base with 2007’s ‘Riot!’ a powerful musical barrage of righteous babe rhetoric that earned Paramore a Grammy nomination for Best New Artist and with their affiliation with the ‘Twilight’ franchise, Paramore’s third album is greeted with eager anticipation from their legions of admirers.
With the release of ‘brand new eyes’ Paramore seem determined to silence their critics, solidify their status and cement their standing in the pop, rock, emo, punk genre they have come to define. Flame haired firecracker Hayley Williams lyrics are consistently direct, potent and uncompromising. This is none more evident in ‘Playing God’ where she proclaims, ‘Next time you point the finger / I might have to bend it back / Or break it, break it off’.
Thankfully Paramore’s new found hostility does not impinge on their ability to produce a catchy, inspiring pop song as demonstrated in the first single released from the album. ‘Ignorance’ slowly builds to a crescendo of yelping, piercing guitar riffs and pounding of drums which is sure to induce potential whiplash after repeated listening. The paradoxical tone means it is dark and brooding and simultaneously fun and frolicking.
‘Brick By Boring Brick’ is the albums philosophical centrepiece. As in ‘Riot!’s’ ‘For A Pessimist I’m Pretty Optimistic’ it outlines lead singer and co-writer Hayley Williams’ perspective on the world. She is a realist. She doesn’t attempt to sugar coat the world around us. The honesty and profound nature of the lyrics she belts out are a welcome change from the shallow and self-indulgent tripe we are so often subjected to from other artists her age.
The formula from the hugely successful, Platinum selling ‘Riot!’ hasn’t changed. Rather it has been tweaked and tightened. This is obvious in ‘Where The Lines Overlap’. A direct correlation can be made between this and ‘Whoa’ from 2007’s ‘Riot!’. It gives something back to the tens of thousands of fans who’ll be bunched together on their December tour. With Williams vocalising, “No one….”you can be assured that the transfixed crowd will reply, “Is as lucky as us!”
Yet amongst all the uplifting head banging, heart pounding euphoria Paramore have chosen to showcase their maturity by including a couple of gentle ballads. This abrupt change of pace is welcomed, if a little surprising. ‘The Only Exception’ seems more a tune to a sappy Kelly Clarkson offering. Williams is the only rock chick able to survive such a comparison and perhaps the only rock chick who has the vocal talent to pull off this lightweight campfire strumming. Her vocals are flawless and sturdy throughout. Even as the song gets soppy, she never does. For this she must be highly commended.
The other downplayed moment is ‘Misguided Ghosts’. It strips the distinctive Paramore sound to the bare bones and replaces it with a sound reminiscent of folksy acoustic finger plucking. Though it does not sound contrived it seems the antithesis of what we come to expect from Paramore. This obvious left field offering should be applauded. However, we’ve got plenty of lady pop stars droning on and on about love and loss. What we need is girls yelling their hearts out and empowering their audiences. Sure the break in pace is welcomed, we all need a breather sometime, but who needs a rest? Paramore should stick to what they do best, because they do it so well.
Indeed Paramore are gazing down on their audience with brand new eyes. I can’t believe they almost hung it up. After all from the sounds of this album their just getting started! An album that should see Paramore elevated to heights exceeding even those they’ve reached so far. Excellent!