Liner Notes: Paramore proves ‘This Is Why’ it remains relevant almost 20 years after debut


Illustration by Gemma DeCetra

Paramore released its sixth studio album, “This Is Why,” Feb. 10.

Beatrice Villaflor, Reporter

With its new album “This Is Why,” Paramore serves post-punk funk with a side of optimistic nihilism. 

Paramore released its sixth studio album Feb. 10. By opening with snares and sprawling guitar riffs, the group heightens the energy formerly set by its predecessor album, “After Laughter.”

Existential angst permeates “This is Why,” with the ache in lead vocalist Hayley Williams’ voice palpable as she pleads the listener to turn off “The News.” The lyricism of “Every second, our collective heart breaks” would wound listeners were it not for the psychedelic guitar accompaniment that livens the track. 

Throughout the album, there is an unyielding critique of society ― especially on “Big Man, Little Dignity” — Williams’ dismissal of the patriarchy. 

At the album’s halfway point, the song has a well-fitting, mellower sound that offers respite from the uptempo preceding songs. Think Taylor Swift’s “The Man,” but with a tinge of gloom that is solely Williams’ style.

Track three, “Running Out Of Time,” will resonate with those who feel there aren’t enough hours in a day, or students feeling the burnout of Winter Quarter.

My favorite, a pleasant addition to the latter half of the album is “Liar,” a slower ballad in which Williams apologizes to an unnamed lover. The anger in her voice has subsided to an acceptance, especially as she coos: “Love is not an easy thing to admit, but I’m not ashamed of it.”

“Thick Skull,” seems like the natural follow-up to “Liar,” where Williams doesn’t wail to make her point clear. Her exasperation is evident: “Same lesson again?”

Her acknowledgement of her own faults in this cycle of despondency is refreshing to hear and marks a moment of real candor in the album. Here, Williams sounds like another friend who’s ignored just one too many red flags — albeit one that digests the hurt through breathy vocals and belts instead of posting passive-aggressive messages on a private Snapchat story. 

“This Is Why” offers no conclusions on how to fight off hopelessness in the modern age, but it comforts listeners all the same – we’re suffering, but at least we’re suffering in it together. 

However, after the umpteenth song that complains about missed potential, some of the narrative in “This Is Why” may become monotonous for listeners, as it did for me. The same punchy guitar sound the album profited off in the beginning was starting to sound tired by the sixth track, “You First.”

Whether we call it a musical metaphor for apathy or a comfortable sound for the group, I just wanted to skip the song.

Perhaps the biggest pitfall that epitomizes this concept is “C’est Comme Ça”, the fourth single off the album and perhaps the most underwhelming. By the third chorus, the “na-na-na-na-na-na-na”s become grating to the ear, showing how easily the album could have gone astray.

Even though the album is not perfect, Paramore displays a maturing sound and style that pairs well with the record’s pervasive feeling of modern malaise. 

Gone are the days of the melodramatic messaging of the band’s earlier hits like “Misery Business” and “Still Into You,” but Paramore remains as relevant and ever-changing as always.

For those tempted to share their dissatisfaction with the album, Williams’ crooning voice only has one message for you: “Might be best to keep it / To yourself.” 

Email: [email protected] 

Twitter: @beatricedvilla

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