Paramore does their best when they’re doing Paramore. This statement is ironic because—on their fourth full-length release—it would seem they needed to shed almost half their weight to make the album they were meant to make. And if you include the recent evidence in the band’s war of words—mainly the first-hand account of Justin and Zac Farro’s departure—you may be inclined to believe Paramore is, quite literally, just vocalist Hayley Williams and doesn’t need a band at all.
Williams (and bandmates guitarist Taylor York and bassist Jeremy Davis) announced the departure of the Farros on their website with the distinct implication that the brothers’ hearts weren’t into it. If you flip the coin, the Farros were standing there saying the band was just a puppet for Williams’ master plan—she is, after all, the only one in the band signed to a major label.
It’s sad the Farro brothers left, but it almost always happens when the weight of a band (even just in perception) is carried by a sole individual—just ask Beyoncé or Justin Timberlake. And if Paramore and the remaining band can write an album like this self-titled one, it may be more of an implication that in order for the band to grow, Williams had to take over anyway. The attrition may have been necessary, sad or not, we all benefited in the fallout.
According to the powers that be, Paramore’s first single “Now” is a song that’s a little more reminiscent of the conventional Paramore sound. “There’s a time and a place to die,” Williams sings, “but this ain’t it.” On the heels of the band’s real life drama, it becomes more than just a lyric; it flirts with being an anthem. Messy guitars and screams echo in the backdrop. It feels a lot like Paramore grown up, like when you see your cousin for the first time after five years and he’s drinking a beer. Follow that jam up with the hook, “Some of us have to grow up sometimes” from the song “Grow Up,” and Williams might as well be on her own crusade of emotional release.
But who knows? Williams is a lover, and the lyrics could be about anything, right? Heck, their second single, “Still Into You,” is a pop-modern-love song and, as the title implies, is a heavy dose of never-leave-your-side, the opposite of crawling back from death.
The best song on the album, “Ain’t It Fun,” is almost a perfect pop song, peppered with sing-a-longs; a gospel effort on the bridge and closing; upbeat, staccato guitar riffs; and snarky lyricism. Truly a complete song.
If Williams grows up anymore—whether it be solo or with anyone else—let’s hope there’s more of this to come. Growing up may be hard to do, but thankfully Paramore’s older now.