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Paramore: This Is Why

Record Review

Paramore: This Is Why






Carlos de la Garza


Haley Williams

Vocals, percussion, piano


Zac Farro

Taylor York

Guitars, Keyboards backing vocals

Drums, percussion, keyboards, backing vocals

CYFI Grading Scale: Buy It, Stream It, Forget It:

Buy It!

It’s amazing how a band can be around a long time, and not only be around a long time but be around a long time and be quite well known and successful, and you can have never heard of them. Or at least I can have never heard of them. Although Paramore was formed 19 years ago, they were nominated for the best new artist Grammy in 2008, there a song Ain’t It Fun won the Grammy for best rock song of 2013, their second album Riot! went platinum in the United States and This Is Why is there sixth studio release this album was my first encounter with Paramore. I stumbled across them in my job at Rob's Records, here in my hometown of Great Barrington, Mass, where I do occasional fill-in work. When I see something new I haven't heard before I try to listen to it so if someone were to ask me what it’s like I can give them an answer.

Ever since seeing the 1992 Robert Altman film “the Player” where are movies are constantly pitched to producer Griffin Mill by making comparisons to two other films e.g. “It’s Pretty Woman meets Out of Africa” I have often sought to categorize new music the same way. It would be easy to say Paramore is “Talking Heads meets No Doubt” and indeed there are many comparisons out there between ex No Doubt singer Gwen Stefani and Paramore front woman Haley Williams. But those comparisons between the two women are unfair to Ms. Williams; at least from a rock snob/purist’s of view. Whereas Gwen Stefani seemed only too eager to launch herself from alt-rock band lead singer to pop diva stardom Hayley Williams has resisted it throughout the 19 year life of Paramore. In fact Williams had a record deal with Atlantic before Paramore and Atlantic’s hope was to use Paramore as the vehicle from which to launch Williams’ solo pop career. In an interview with HitQuarters the band's A&R at Atlantic, Steve Robertson, said, "She wanted to make sure that we didn't look at her as some straight to Top 40 pop princess. She wanted to make sure that she and her band got the chance to show what they can do as a rock band writing their own songs.”. So in light of that I think the best comparison I can make is “Talking Heads if they were a power trio and Tina Weymouth was the lead vocalist” and we’ll leave Glenn Stephani out of it from this point forward.

One of the first things I really liked about this album is the sound, particularly the sound of Taylor York’s guitars. And in fact, after production of the album began the band described it as more “guitar heavy” although not so much so as to be overly dominant. Session bassist Brian Robert Jones’ playing is inventive, varying and readily audible throughout the album. Many of the songs contain very appealing hooks but they’re not overly obvious. What I noticed first was some guitar riffs and melodies that stood out. It was after a few weeks of listening to the album that I awoke with the hooks from a couple of the album’s tracks, C’est Comme Ca and Big Man, Little Dignity, playing in my head.

The album was produced by notable indie/alt rock producer Carlos de la Garza. All 10 tracks are original with writing credits been given to the band as a whole. In addition to Jones on bass two more outside players brought in to handle some woodwind parts and some keyboards. Aside from that all of the instrumentation is handled by members of the band including drums and percussion by Zac Farro who was one of the other founding members of the band along with Williams.

The first five tracks are definitely the strongest parts of the album and if I owned this on LP I could see where might find myself playing side A far more often that I did side B. Having said that I would point out that I have only listened to this album through my streaming service, usually listen to it all the way through and I would not say I experienced a big drop off with songs six through 10. However, it’s no surprise to me that the three singles released thus far; the title track,The New and C’est Comme Ca are tracks 1, 2 and 4 respectively. The last three songs of the album, while not exactly ballads, are definitely the record’s quietest. I was bothered by this at first and felt they should’ve been interspersed more throughout the album but after a few listens I think I agree with the order of the tracks. As it is the end of the album sort of lets you down slowly as opposed to riding a roller coaster of fast loud song, quiet slower song, fast loud song, etc.

Being new to the music of Paramore I’m not able to offer comparisons to their earlier work and consider this a step forward or backward but I have to say that I would be very surprised if I found it to be the latter of the two.

Big Man, Little Dignity
C'est Comme Ca
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