Over half a decade, a lot can change, especially if it’s anything like the last five years Planet Earth has endured.
When Paramore last released an album - 2017’s After Laughter - the world looked markedly different. A record laden with funky pop anthems and vibrant colour, signalling the return of former drummer Zac Farro (who had left the band in 2010), it was a glorious exploration into new realms of '80's synth pop and art rock for the Nashville trio.
Since then, the world has been plunged into darkness, and whilst solo projects and production duties kept the trio from twiddling their thumbs too much - they’ve mostly been taking a bit of a breather. Now, with their first album post-pandemic, they’re venturing out into a world where pop-punk is… cool?
Unintentionally finding themselves at the centre of the recent revival after being given co-writing credits on Olivia Rodrigo’s 2021 Number 1 single good 4 u (due to its similarities to their 2007 hit Misery Business), pop culture trends aligned to give the ringleaders of the mid 2000’s scene a perfect opportunity for an emo nostalgia cash-in. But on album six it seems Paramore have other plans.
A reminder of their insatiable drive for evolution, This Is Why opens on its dynamic title track. A playful guitar line leads into a jagged chorus, echoing Hayley Williams’ paranoid anxieties in a post-pandemic landscape. Merging mid-00s indie flourishes with a post-punk swagger and theatrical art rock touches reminiscent of Talking Heads, it kickstarts a cathartic 10-track untangling of what it means to exist in the modern world.
Whether they’re unpicking the overwhelming onslaught of bad news during the pandemic (The News) or calling out men who refuse to take accountability for their actions (Big Man, Little Dignity), album six finds Paramore at their most political. The first Paramore album to feature the same line-up as its predecessor, it finds the trio channelling the rage, trauma, and uncertainty of the past few years into a collection that feels vital and urgent and, somewhat ironically, fearless.
From the bouncy post-punk of recent single C’est Comme Ça to the dance-ready riffs of Running Out Of Time and the heartfelt notes of gentle ballad Liar, This Is Why is an eclectic culmination of everywhere the trio have been so far and everywhere they have the potential to go. Distinctly Paramore yet distinctly evolved, affairs draw to a close on introspective slow burner Thick Skull, with Williams taking to the piano and delivering a beautifully raw vocal performance over a final instrumental flourish.
Marking the end of the band’s tenure with Atlantic Records, the only label they’ve ever known, This Is Why is the final chapter - for now - of a remarkable story. Through line-up changes, Grammy wins, lawsuits, triple-platinum selling albums, and one global pandemics– Paramore is an organism that’s been growing for the better part of two decades. Settled into their stride now and boldly defining their own path, whilst their future may be undetermined – right now Paramore are seemingly unstoppable.