Album: "This is Why” by Paramore
Release Date: Feb. 10, 2023
Duration: 36 minutes, 16 seconds
Label: Atlantic Records Group LLC
After leaning into modern pop on its last album, “After Laughter,” Paramore has returned to its angsty roots in its newest release, “This is Why.” The album, while fixed in the band's familiar pop-punk sound, shows personal growth through an impassioned exploration of a wide variety of topics, providing listeners with a fresh listening experience 18 years after the band's debut.
The opening track and lead single, “This is Why,” kicks off the album with prominent guitars, drums and a catchy melody. These elements are featured heavily throughout the album, including in its sixth track, “You First.” In the song, lead vocalist Hayley Williams reflects on the harsh nature of the world, saying that "Everyone is a bad guy" and describing her life as "A horror film / Where I'm both the killer and the final girl."
Powerful lyrics combined with sharp guitar licks and strong percussion are reminiscent of Paramore's earlier albums, such as "Riot!" and "Brand New Eyes," which made the band a staple of the mid-2000s pop-punk music genre. While the genre, which has been growing more popular in recent years, is typically marked by fast tempos and lyrics discussing rebellion from the status quo, "This is Why" approaches it with a new sense of maturity.
In the second track, “The News,” Williams writes on the public’s constant consumption of media and its effects on her perspective of the world. "Every second our collective heart breaks / All together every single head shakes," she sings in the song's chorus. "Shut your eyes but it won't go away / Turn on, turn off the news." In lyrics such as these, Paramore shows a newfound consciousness of the current social climate without sacrificing any of the emotion of its previous works.
“Big Man, Little Dignity” similarly analyzes societal norms by expressing disappointment in male figures and their continued mistakes. By discussing the glaring missteps of people in power and their subsequent and often undeserved redemption, Williams conveys to the listener that she views the world through a new, matured lens.
The album also touches on widely relatable topics — often with a biting sense of sarcasm. “C’est Comme Ça,” for example, laments the mundanity of getting one’s life together.
“I know that regression is rarely rewarded / I still need a certain degree of disorder,” Williams sings over jeeringly repetitive guitar riffs, describing her resistance against the "perfect" lifestyle being pushed upon her in favor of the chaos she craves.
Meanwhile, “Running Out Of Time” is the procrastinator’s anthem, with lyrics discussing how Williams’ lack of time management skills may be perceived as selfish or lazy by others.
Though these songs add a sense of lightheartedness to the album, they're often repetitive and lack emotional depth. The lyrics of the latter half of the album, however, are more introspective. “Figure 8," for instance, discusses themes of burnout and a resulting loss of identity, and is set to an intense melody to match the lyrics’ emotional energy.
The album's eighth track, "Liar," is one of its more relaxed songs, with subdued vocals and instrumentals allowing its poignant lyrics to more deeply impact the listener.
“Love is not a weakening, if you feel it rushing in / Don’t be ashamed of it,” Williams sings in a hushed tone, apologizing to her lover for being in denial about her love for them. This understated show of vulnerability is in sharp contrast to the rowdiness of the first half of the album, and its quiet simplicity is refreshing for the listener.
The closing track, “Thick Skull,” is a perfect summation of the album's contents, with deeply personal lyrics and an understated melody that intensifies throughout the course of the song.
"I am attracted to broken people / I pick 'em up and now my fingers are bleeding," Williams sings in the track. "And it looks like my fault / And it looks like I'm caught red-handed." The ballad, which culminates in dramatic guitars and powerful vocals from Williams, once again harkens to songs featured on Paramore’s past albums.
“This is Why” signifies Paramore’s departure from its previous album's synth-pop sound and a clear comeback to the pop-punk genre. With emotive lyricism, powerhouse vocals and impactful instrumentals, this latest album showcases the band's pop-punk roots. Its return to the genre feels natural, almost as if they never left it in the first place, proving to the listener why it has always belonged.