08 April 2013
by Terry Bezer
Getting the basic facts out of the way, it’s been four years since the last album from Paramore. Four years that has also seen the departure of their key songwriting component, the Farro brothers, and four years in which Paramore have become by far and away the most plagiarized band within contemporary rock.
As they’re indubitably a pop-rock band that are as rooted in the first half of that genre title as they are the second, a look at the biggest US selling singles of 2009 and 2012 could be telling as to the direction Paramore have taken on the follow-up to the uber-successful Brand New Eyes. In 2009, the biggest selling pop single was the Black Eyed Peas ‘Boom Boom Pow’ followed by Flo Rida’s ‘Round Round’ with the Kings Of Leon’s ‘Use Somebody’ being the only non-bubblegum entry into the overall top 10 (at number 10, in case you wondered). Last year, the list was topped by Carly Rae Jepson’s ‘Call Me Maybe’ but was followed by Gotye’s ‘Somebody I Used To Know’ with two top 10 finishes for the (at least relatively) alternative fun. It’s not a seismic shift but putting this alongside the UK characteristically following suit this year (an album topper for Biffy and a top 5 single for the returning Fall Out Boy by the end of February), it’s clear that times are changing within the world of popular music. Whether it’s this shift in pop culture or the change within their ranks that has seen Paramore choose right now to release their most eclectic and grown-up material to date is entirely up to your own perception and cynicism.
That’s not to suggest that they’ve gone full retard and alienated anyone who’s succumbed to the band’s charms to date. Opener ‘Fast In My Car’ is all atypical disco drums and fuzz-driven bass but with a trademark chorus to die for and the slick riffing and off-kilter rhythmic assault that run throughout ‘Now’ might be foreign territory but the vocal punch is as potent as you expect from the first single from a Paramore album. Indeed, even when things stray from what’s expected from the band musically, Hayley Williams’ ability to launch earworms into your subconscious is still unmatched by anyone, anywhere. ‘Still Into You’ is saccharine sweet and for those that like their love songs more The Wedding Singer than Lost In Translation, The Shirelles feel of ‘(One Of Those) Crazy Girls’ is wrapped in lush 50’s chic and the xylophones, 80’s synths and funk guitar of ‘Ain’t It Fun’ echoes Paula Abdul and Bad-era Michael Jackson.
Watch the video to ‘Now’ by Paramore:
It’s not all sunshine and rainbows here though. There are three entirely unnecessary ukulele-lead interludes that bring nothing but irritation to the table, closing track ‘Future’ is nearly eight minutes of pretentious nothingness, and ‘Daydreaming’ and ‘Last Hope’ are that little bit too sappy for their own good.
These moments aside, Paramore have returned with an album that has seen them broadening their horizons without losing any of the charm that has made them one of the biggest bands in the world. Playing it anything but safe, Paramore feels like a victory for both the band and creative, gutsy pop-rock songwriting.
Sounds Like: Paramore staying ahead of the Hayley clones of 2010-2012
Standout Tracks: Still Into You, Grow Up, Ain’t It Fun. (Fuck you, Abdul rules)