Move over, Avril, there's a new gun in town. And even though Paramore's lead singer, Hayley Williams, is a few years younger, she has a way bigger set of vocal pipes. The two share a similar register, but Williams belts it out with way more control and authority. She may even be more of a respectable pop idol since her image isn't manufactured to be rebellious and angst-ridden, but she instead appears to be a genuinely sweet girl, bottling up a huge voice and a heart full of lost loves. On Riot! she fills the majority of the punk-pop tunes with tales of emo angst and declarations of boy woes. Although her lyrics can seem contrived, they also feel representative of actual teenage puppy love, where a breakup feels like the end of the world. The songs are all pretty good tunes performed well, with catchy hooks in the vein of Boys Like Girls fronted by a young Shirley Manson(although that analogy might be lost, since most people who like Boys Like Girls probably aren't familiar with oldies like Garbage.) As with all of the bands on the Fueled by Ramen roster, the band is an energetic troupe of rockers with precise haircuts who rock pretty hard. The production is sparkling and heavily compressed due to the golden hands of David Bendeth, but this is potentially a downside. Since the sound quality is ultra-clean, it makes the listening experience relatively risk-free and also brings attention to the fact that there's not a lot of ground being broken here. Most songs have an interesting breakdown of some sort in the bridge, which helps break up the entirety of the disc, and there are a few power ballads (think "Don't Speak") that work well, but overall there's a consistent distorted guitar chug and driving beats that never stray too far from Fall Out Boy's formula. The lack of originality is forgivable when Williams' girlish charm takes over. It's a lot like the scene in High Fidelity where the jaded record clerks hear Lisa Bonet's character singing a Frampton song that's worn to death, but because of her beauty and sweet voice, they love the performance. In the last track, "Born for This" Williams takes a break from her love confessions, and commands everyone to sing like it's the last song they will ever sing, making for a perfect live show closer. Ultimately, this disc has enormous crossover potential, and will probably appeal to those who are fans of the genre, and for those who aren't, there's a good chance of it becoming a guilty pleasure.
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For a Pessimist, I'm Pretty Optimistic
That's What You Get
When It Rains
Let the Flames Begin
We Are Broken
Born for This
Misery Business (Acoustic) [iTunes Bonus Track]
Temporary (Demo) [Fueled by Ramen Bonus Track]
Decoy [Hot Topic Bonus Track]
Here We Go Again (Live) [FYE Bonus Track]
My Hero (Electronic Remix) [Rhapsody Bonus Track]
Stop This Song (Lovesick Melody) [Best Buy Bonus Track]