Paramore has returned with their 6th album, This is Why. Coming in at 36 minutes, the album consists of 10 tracks and is a smooth listen, crescendoing from the more radio-attuned singles to the heartbreakingly raw closer of “Thick Skull.” Six years have passed since their last album, After Laughter, and it’s evident by their sound that while the band is constantly evolving, their past is integral to how they move forward. While they continue to experiment, the trio looks back to their personal life for inspiration as well as their different eras musically. There is something in This is Why for any fan of Paramore’s music, regardless of the favored album.
This is Why has a stark difference from After Laughter, which was also a departure from Paramore’s repertoire. Even though there are still flutters of New Wave in a few of the tracks, this album sees Paramore also return to some of their heavier sound from previous eras — the band described the album as more “guitar-heavy” prior to release. Both Farro and York show their expertise with production that matches the raw emotion Williams delivers in her vocals. And Hayley Williams gives her most powerful performance yet, delving into the themes of anger, self-reflection, and guilt.
“This is Why” is not only the title track but also the first one and acts like a thesis for the majority of the album. Touching on the feeling of wanting to retreat from others and as a whole. Farro and York also provide backing vocals on the track, setting it apart from the rest of the album. “The News” continues with this theme and musical aesthetic, describing the personal impact of being surrounded constantly by the inescapable details of the horrible things happening across the globe and the helplessness that comes along with that. ‘Running Out of Time’ follows next and is perhaps the most fun song out of the bunch, bolstered by the relatable lyrics and additional vocalizations Williams provides for the song. If any song is to hit the status of some of their other singles, such as ‘The Only Exception’ or ‘Ain’t It Fun’ reached, then this single is sure to be it. The fourth track, ‘C’est Comme Ça’ pairs nicely with the previous track, another fun track about the urge for chaos with super suave vocals from Williams, definitely a departure from her usual performance style.
The album takes a shift for the more personal after the 4th track, beginning with ‘Big Man, Little Dignity,’ most likely influenced by Williams’ marriage and divorce from ex-husband Chad Gilbert. The song is much more catchy than the title suggests and leads nicely into ‘You First,’ my personal favorite from the album which taps into the themes of bitterness and revenge. Playing off that, ‘Figure 8’ follows about getting trapped in a never-ending cycle of loss and toxicity for the sake of another person, a track that’s sure to be a favorite from the album.
‘Liar’ once again deviates from the prior tracks and takes a break from the more negative feelings to instead focus on an epiphany regarding Williams’ new relationship with band member and Paramore guitarist Taylor York. The two were confirmed as an item in late 2022 — and with the timing of their disclosure and the release of their 6th album, the inspiration behind the song is pretty clear, with the two having known each other since their pre-teen years. Following suit, ‘Crave’ is also a love song but is more emblematic of self-love as it focuses on nostalgic memories and the attempt to live in the moment and appreciate the past. Therapeutic and car-wail worthy, ‘Crave’ is the last upbeat track before the album ends with ‘Thick Skull,’ which contains the most personal and darkest moments from the entire album. It also contains some of Williams’ most miraculous notes, commensurate to ‘All I Wanted’ from “Brand New Eyes.”
This is Why is a highly successful album, not only in creating easily digestible pop-punk singles but also in releasing several deeply personal tracks that their dedicated fanbase can devour and serenade themselves with. This album is strong on many fronts. However, this Paramore sounds the most polished they’ve been without as huge of divergence from their typical wheelhouse as After Laughter was. As a longtime fan of the band (since my early teenage days), this album will continue to captivate my thoughts. Paramore always feels like they’re growing, and this no album is no exception, adding a new self-reflecting and deeply personal emotional chapter to their already versatile discography.
Featured Image Courtesy of 2022 Atlantic Recording Group LLC