Nearly six years after the release of their last studio album (2017’s “After Laughter”), alternative rock group Paramore released “This is Why” on Feb. 10.
The sixth studio album in the Tennessee band’s discography is an outlier, largely due to its departure from their roots, which dates to the pop-punk scene of the early 2000s.
In an interview, Paramore frontwoman Hayley Williams said the group did not want to be a “nostalgia band” and live in the past.
Even within the past decade, Paramore has slowly moved away from the pop-punk/emo scene they broke out in. Their 2017 album, “After Laughter,” features a lighter sound with funk inspirations, introducing hits like “Hard Times” and “Caught in the Middle.”
Upon first listen, “This is Why” seems like another step away from Paramore’s “classic” sound in the angsty “Ain’t it Fun” and the poppy “Still Into You” which remain two of the band’s best-known tracks, both from 2013’s “Paramore.”
From the opener alone, “This is Why” establishes a different direction. The song begins with a shuffled drum beat and is carried by soft vocals from Williams rather than her self-assured power anthems.
The album’s second track, “The News,” features a slight return to form for the band. This track is arguably the ‘punkiest’ on the album, featuring angsty vocals from Williams and equally heavy percussion and guitar. From here though, the album becomes rather experimental, not looking back.
The third track, “Running Out of Time,” distances itself stylistically from “The News.” It features a funkier influence, similar to something on “After Laughter,” but also includes flutes, clarinets and a vibraphone.
The album’s fourth track “C’est Comme Ca” (translated to “It Is What It Is”), is one of the album’s most experimental tracks. The song features multiple spoken-word portions, French influences, as well as inspiration from Bloc Party, a British punk band from the early 2000s who Williams credits as a heavy influence on this record.
However, it is near the latter half of the 10-track album where Paramore truly distances themselves from their previous works. The album’s eighth song, “Liar,” is a soft and tender ballad, seeing Paramore tap into a vulnerability we have not seen before. Additionally, Williams’ ability to perform an intimate love song is on full display here, and I think she executes the performance excellently.
Some outlets who have reviewed this album credit “Liar” as one of the album’s weak spots. I, on the other hand, believe the track to be a highlight. While it is definitely out of the norm for Paramore, the melody is really captivating and excellently executed.
The album’s ninth track, “Crave,” takes a similar sentiment. While slightly heavier and more “new wave” than “Liar,” it is still a soft ballad which carries a fantastic chorus and vocal performance. This song has some serious title-track potential, and I could have just as easily seen the album called Crave.
Regardless, “This is Why” showcases a new side of Paramore. The band seems to have matured and become more experimental with their overall sound, a fact sure to divide most of the fanbase.
However, while the album does have its bright points, as an overall body of work, “This is Why” feels like it is missing something. As Paramore’s sixth record takes its place in the band’s history, it will not hold up to albums like “Paramore” or “Brand New Eyes,” but there will be a select few who will still enjoy it. If nothing else, “This is Why” showcases the band at their most experimental, a fact some, like myself, respect.
Out of 10 stars, “This is Why” warrants five.