This Is Why

by Colton Game

Paramore is likely to be a staple for the music taste of your teen years; at least it was for me. My middle and early high school years were dominated by Fall Out Boy, Panic! at the Disco, My Chemical Romance, and of course, Paramore. Their self-titled album in 2013 was an hour long epic, with interludes and a faux post-rock song in “Future,” and was recognized as a shift from their previous pop-punk sound that their fans have grown to love. However, unlike Fall Out Boy’s “Save Rock and Roll,” or anything Panic! has released after “Pretty. Odd.,” this change was largely praised by fans and critics alike.

Four years later, Paramore released After Laughter, which was an even more drastic change in sound for the band, where they went into new-wave and dance music. This was the band’s most critically acclaimed album to date, and was tied with “Riot!” as my personal favorite album of theirs. That was released 6 years ago now, right at the end of my freshman year of high school.

Now, in 2023, Paramore have shifted their sound again, leaning towards a more post-punk revival sound that I am absolutely in love with. They’ve gotten some claims of being too similar to Bloc Party, a comparison I understand, but I definitely don’t see it as a rip-off. When the title track for this album was released, you could see the exact direction they were going both in terms of sound and writing.

To some, the lyrics of This Is Why may be seen as very millennial-sounding, with a lot of first-world problems being addressed in each track. This is a criticism I’ve been seeing a lot for “The News,” which, personally, is my favorite track on the whole album. The lyrics here address the feeling of hopelessness that you get from doomscrolling on online news feeds that report tragedy after tragedy. To me, this is a much better way to tackle this subject, as I feel almost anyone my age can relate to what is being said, as opposed to someone telling me what I need to be doing better from their 3-story mansion in LA. This is also one of the most intense-sounding Paramore songs they’ve released, with a driving guitar on the chorus that sounds like a drill being dug right into the amp.

The heaviness of this track isn’t exclusive to this song, though. This album has a mix of pop-rock, like the title track, more intense tracks like “You First” and the aforementioned “The News” (which are my personal favorites on the whole record), and the slower tracks that really let Hayley’s vocals shine. Seriously, I knew she could sing before, but her voice is on a whole different level here. The last two songs are the best examples of this. Both are extremely powerful tracks, with “Crave” being about Hayley’s dreaming of the past, and how her previously thought “bad times” have become something she craves; a feeling she can’t explain. “Thick Skull” is an ending that I think ties the whole album together perfectly, and I know I mentioned that Hayley’s vocals shine here, but so does the entire band. The finale has some of the oddest instrumentation found on the whole album, and the lyrics about constantly feeling the need to fix broken people and the emotional turmoil that comes with that are incredible. “Running Out Of Time” also begins with some plucking that sounds much different for Paramore. The lyrics, once again, may be seen as inconsequential or a little too millennial sounding, but in my opinion it’s extremely relatable. The chorus of this track might be my favorite on the whole project, right next to the title track. Hayley explodes into the hook, and the backing vocals of “She’s always running out of time!” give the song this theatrical, and almost campy quality that I love.

The band also brings in woodwinds on this go around, which, to my knowledge, is the first time they’ve ever done so. “Little Man, Big Dignity” incorporates a somber bassoon at the beginning of the track, which sets the tone perfectly, and the vocals remind me of a Young the Giant song. “Figure 8” is a song with a perfect title, as the band sounds like they’re creating an ice skating performance. The lyrics themselves deal with similar themes as “Thick Skull,” with Hayley talking about the issues of being in a relationship with an emotionally broken person, ending up in a loop, or figure 8.

“C’est Comme Ça” and “Liar” are the two weaker songs in the tracklist, but this doesn’t mean they’re bad. “C’est Comme Ça” was always an odd choice of a single to me, as it felt like a short interlude compared to the grander tone of the first two. Out of all the tracks here, it feels the most like a side note, but it’s still pleasant and fits within the album perfectly fine. “Liar” can be put in with the slower tracks I mentioned earlier, like “Crave” and “Thick Skull,” and while this track would’ve been fine on its own, I feel like it gets overshadowed by those last two, considering every aspect of this song is done better there. However, like I said, I think I’d like it more if they didn’t put the three slowest songs at the very end, all bulked together.

This Is Why is definitely the tightest project Paramore has ever put together, with a mix of their most unique instrumentation yet, and Hayley’s always incredible songwriting, I have no problem calling this my favorite album from the band, and I can’t wait to see what they do next, even if it takes five more years.