Review: Paramore - Paramore

Paramore's self-titled fourth studio album is the first without brothers and longtime contributors Josh and Zac Farro and it serves as a bit of a reinvention for the newly defined trio. However, despite frontlady Hayley bearing a narrow resemblance to Yolandi Visser of Die Antwoord, Paramore's identity as masters of the perpetual hook and Pop-Punk mahatmas is largely unchanged. These 17 (seventeen) tracks nicely occupy the foundation laid down by the previous three Paramore albums and divert irregularly, but when they do, the backbone that is Hayley's ostentatious voice guides them to their ultimate transcendence and downfall while serving as a fitting testament to their imaginations as well as their ability to persevere - not only in their own minds and worlds, but in the mind of the listener as well.

By now, you know what you get with Paramore, but with the album art evoking the kind of artistic shift that is so common these days, it's hard not to be weary. But after opener and customary feel good hit of the summer Fast In My Car, the band breaks into single Now and it's an expectedly brusque, faux-inspirational anthem with Hayley's voice doing all of the leg work. Instead of writing memorable lyrics, Paramore have perfected the art of instilling the infectious, repetitive hook deep in one's mind and it's hugely effective. That lingering obnoxious quality to a lot of Pop-Punk bands is missing here. The same apply to the next two songs, Grow Up and Daydreaming, with the latter's emphatic percussion burying these light synths as Hayley sings the word "Daydreaming" 24 times. The first of three "Interlude" tracks Coming Home is a short countrified ballad, a minimal but expressively satisfying song. The continuity of these interludes helps the album's structure as the three as a trio, Coming Home, Holiday and I'm Not Angry Anymore are both intimate and continuous and don't feel disjointed in contrast to the other 15 songs. After all, this is a 17 track sprawl, so this serving of acoustic balladry does wonders. 

Just like this trio of jingles, Paramore feel invigorated and strengthened by being a trio. Undeniably, Hayley is the heart of the band, but each of the three members contribute in their own way. Taylor York on guitar especially is as solid as ever, despite the reverb. Part II best exemplifies both of these qualitiesAssumed to be the successor to Let The Flames Begin, its powerful chorus is perhaps the highlight of the album. Last Hope has the potential to spawn a dozen motivational posters, but it still retains that infectious quality - "It's just a spark, but it's enough to keep me going" - and has a summer festival vibe going for it.

But then this is 17 songs long and there are plenty of moments where Paramore's songwriting is wholly unmemorable and sometimes downright awful. Ain't it Fun and its gospel choir is nauseating to the extreme and Anklebiters may just be the most forgetful song of the year. In fact, the whole second half of the album with the exception of the two interludes and the last few minutes of the closer Future are careless and preoccupied in being something more than the sum of their parts. Hate To See Your Heart Break is a sorry excuse of a love song with its nursery rhyme instrumentation and depressingly contrived strings resonating sourly with the terrible lyrics. 

It's a complete shame that all these anthems for the insecure precede what is genuinely an interesting turn in sound. On Future, Paramore employ a fade-in-fade-out crescendo twist, a distorted and somewhat well executed attempt at Post-Rock. The sharp strings aren't far off sounding like something from an early 65daysofstatic record but they end abruptly and consequently this whole section does feel disjointed, like it has no right being on a Paramore record. The little country jams were fine, but Future is Paramore's attempt to be something they're genuinely not. If Paramore want to write a Post-Rock record, they should write a Post-Rock record. Until then, their Alternative/Emo/Pop-Punk/Whatever the fuck else roots do well in creating a solid, certainly overly long record that succeeds as often as it fails.


Friday, 19 April 2013

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