Following a nearly six-year hiatus, Paramore returned with its last album as part of the nearly two-decade contract its lead singer, Hayley Williams, signed as a teenager. This Is Why released Friday to a long-awaiting audience.
The album discusses feelings of imminent doom, reflection on the pandemic, and feeling powerless, scared and lost in today’s world. All of this is done in the band’s transition to a post-punk sound, which is emerging these days in other artists’ sounds such as Willow, Olivia Rodrigo and Billie Eilish.
The album starts with the title track, “This Is Why,” which summarizes the emotions of existing in 2022 and having survived the past couple of years. When the first single was released, I was impressed by the band’s altered sound, as someone who hasn’t really listened to the group in a good 10 years. Williams’ powerful vocals jump easily from her soft, angelic head voice to a low-range powerful belt in the chorus.
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This transitions to “The News,” which sounds slightly akin to Paramore’s older sound and talks of the overwhelming news cycle, information overload and feeling bad for taking a break from news consumption. The more banging, rock feel sounds older but speaks to a relevant, contemporary theme.
From there, the album jumps into the jazzy atmosphere of “Running Out of Time,” which is much smoother than the last two songs. The variation in the first three tracks of the album displays how easily the band can melt its sound to match the different genres it’s explored over the years — while still maintaining its sound.
Over the course of Paramore’s contract, Williams has remained the lead singer while many members came in and out. There have been eight total members and many dramatic quits. This album is the first to be made by the same lineup as the album before; After Laughter, released in 2017.
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One of the more hidden songs in the album with my favorite instrumentals was “Figure 8.” The repetitive guitar strumming pattern paired with Williams’ vocals really felt like you were spinning as you listened to it. It had a more modern sound than the rest of the album while somehow maintaining a very punk feel.
Many of the album’s songs confronted very clear concepts, with no attempt to hide them in metaphorical lyrics. In “Big Man, Little Dignity,” the narrative attacks the men who can get away with anything they want, and in “C’est Comme Ça,” Williams repeatedly sings “C’est comme ça” in the chorus which, in French, means “It is what it is.”
The last song on the album was actually penned on the first day of writing and is a standout song for the record. It is very soft and reflective, as Williams considers the criticism she received through Paramore over the years. The band has been subject to much drama throughout its long existence, from band members quitting to having questionable lyrics at times.“This being the last album of this era of our career as part of the same contract I signed as a teen, I just want to leave all those fears and the bullshit here,” Williams told The Line of Best Fit. “I’m not taking it with me any further.”