When Hayley Williams began writing lyrics for the songs that appear on Paramore's self-titled new album, she found herself feeling more optimistic than ever before about the future of the band she has fronted since she was 15.
"I had this kind of Tony-in-West-Side-Story-moment when he sings about how something is coming. He doesn't know what it is, but it's going to be great," she says with a laugh. "A lot of the new songs came out of that. They're about needing to find whatever's next."
Lead-off single "Now" — with lyrics like "if there's a future, we want it now" — sets the urgent tone of Paramore, the Nashville, Tennessee-bred band's fourth album. Given the choice of packing it in or reinventing themselves as a trio, Williams, guitarist Taylor York, and bassist Jeremy Davis chose the latter and made a positive, uplifting album that reflects who they are in the present. "I'm really proud of the fact that this is not an angry Paramore album," Williams says.
Adds Davis: "It's a lot happier and brighter album than people might expect given what's happened. We've wanted to write songs like this for so long, but weren't there emotionally. Now we are."
The band members holed up to write over the past year and a half and emerged with a collection of songs that retains Paramore's youthful spirit, but clearly shows their evolution. It's the most musically adventurous set they've released to date. Which isn't to say the album won't thrill longtime fans. Still present is a ferocious, churning energy (a hallmark of Paramore's sound) on "Now," "Fast In My Car," "Proof," "Anklebiters," and "Be Alone." But the album should also earn Paramore new listeners, thanks to the trio's willingness to explore uncharted sonic territory, like the funky, high-stepping "Ain't It Fun" (featuring soulful vocals from Williams, slap-bass from Davis, and the soaring sound of a gospel choir), the doo wop-inflected "(One of Those) Crazy Girls," and the lilting, string-filled "Hate To See Your Heart Break."
"People obviously give Hayley credit for being an amazing singer, but I don't think they really understand how versatile she is and how much her voice can do," York says. "You really hear different sides of her on this album."
For her part, Williams says that York stepping into a songwriter role was key to the album's musical diversity. "I don't think anyone knew Taylor had it in him," she says. "Not that we had any reason to doubt that he did, but he just never had the opportunity before. While we were writing, I would walk into the room and hear something he'd be working on and be like, 'What is that? That sounds insane.' He'd say, 'Oh, it's just something I was doing for me,' and I'd say 'No, we're going to use that.'"
Says York: "Hayley and I really challenged each other during the songwriting process. It was a really cool experience to write with her and go on a new journey together. Once we found our own dynamic, it led to something different than our classic Paramore sound."
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Paramore: One of the Best Albums I've Heard!| Posted July 23, 2014
2013-2014 have two big years for Paramore. In 2013, they released this fantastic self-titled album, earning their first #1 album and big hit with "Still Into You." Now in 2014, their current single "Ain't It Fun" has been their highest charting single yet, and the band is arguably more popular than ever. I was incredibly excited for this album in 2013 and bought the day it came out. I certainly wasn't dissapointed.
Being that this is a 17 song album, I'm not going to try and cover every track, but the album as a whole. The album is pretty solid except for track 14, "(One of Those) Crazy Girls," but even that song has a bit of a strong melody, so I have to give this album a perfect score. The band went for a more mainstream approach while retaining some of their rock sound, and it worked extremely well. The singles "Still Into You" and "Ain't It Fun," along with "Fast In My Car," "Grow Up," "Proof," and "Crazy Girls" are probably the poppiest the album gets, but the all have pretty solid guitar lines and stellar drumming, courtesy of Ilan Rubin (lostprophets/Angels & Airwaves). "Part II" and "Anklebiters" have to be my top 2 songs on the album, with "Part II" being a very epic rock song clocking in at nearly 5 minutes and "Anklebiters" being a 2 minute blast of pop/punk energy (seriously though, Rubin must have some killer biceps...). Other standouts would have to be "Fast In My Car," "Now," "Grow Up," "Ain't It Fun," "Still Into You," and "Future," an epic 8 minute closer.
Overall, Paramore have truly created something special. Although some may argue it's their most bubblegum and commercial album yet, I feel like it's got enough creativity and effort to feel like a work of art. Definite reccomendation!