Sound — 8
Paramore are an American pop rock band releasing albums since 2005. The band currently is a trio, featuring Hayley Williams on vocals, Taylor York on guitar, and Zac Farro on drums. This is Farro's first album since his return to the band earlier this year. He and his brother Josh, both founding members of the band, left in 2010. The supposed story is that the brothers felt Hayley was taking the spotlight in too many ways. While the brothers' departure might still remain controversial, there is no denying that Hayley Williams is the face of the band. From the songwriting credits to stage presence, Hayley is the center of attention.
That being said, what's most interesting about this album is how much there is to like from the other band members. Actually, my favorite part of the album is the bass playing, which isn't even done by a band member, but rather by producer Justin Meldal-Johnsen, who is filling in due to the departure of founding member Jeremy Davis. His tone is firm and, maybe because he's the producer, it's right at the front of the mix, impossible to miss. His playing is also great. Nothing is ever too complicated, but there is always a cool groove going. It's great, the type of thing that doesn't get in the way, but is there if your mind ever needs something interesting to latch onto.
The clean electric guitars of Taylor York are also a standout feature of this album. Their clear tone makes them stand out in the mix. But more importantly, the playing is just so fluid. Sometimes there's something funky but other times there's some really nice arpeggios. This aren't necessarily complicated, but again, just like the bass playing, it completely fills the role that it is supposed to fill.
In general that seems to be the common theme with this album, that the role of nothing is overstated and everything fits in its place. Also just like the bass parts the guitar parts are also perpetual Groove although although these parts are also usually more in the Middle where is the bases somewhere in the you don't have to listen to if you don't want to pay attention.
Perhaps the most spontaneous thing about this album is the drumming; it doesn't seem to ever follow a very particular beat. To be clear, everything is in 4/4; there's nothing weird as far as time signatures. At the same time, none of the rhythms are easy and steady like one might expect with a pop album. There's a lot of playing on the tom-toms. The basic idea seems to be that the snare and the bass drum are hit at the normal times but in between the beats, everything else seems to be fair game. Despite the spontaneity, everything stays in an easy enough to follow rhythm, but overall it's not as form-fitting as the bass or guitar parts.
The songwriting follows the theme of the instruments in that it stays simple, but groovy. The album is a collection of nice, little tunes that never go over five minutes but never below three minutes. As you can imagine the song structures are pretty similar throughout the album, but that doesn't mean the song themselves or similar. It seems like each song has its own little theme and then the songs go about expressing that theme. The result is that most of the songs are catchy and fill their little niche well before cutting out before boredom arrives.
Lyrics — 8
All of this and still and no mention of Hayley Williams's performance on this album. Her performance is perhaps the easiest describe of them all because it is something everyone has heard from her before. If she is the center of the band, it's because her writing and her vocal contributions seem to be the most prolific thing about the band. So ironically, her performance on this album, which is consistent with her other work in Paramore, feels like the simplest performance of them all because of how expected it is. And as expected, her performance flies high.
The lyrics on the album are pretty relatable. Hayley Williams is one of those lyricists who can write about the same old things everyone else does, for example love, loss, and struggle but make it seem personal to the listener.
Overall Impression — 8
Overall, this album is consistently fun and entertaining. It is particularly striking how well these songs would work in a live setting. The songs are concise and groovy; one would think they would get old fast, but they never do. Every instrument has something interesting to offer that would be worth listening to on its own.
Oddly enough, one can easily picture the album as fitting the late spring, early summer timeslot in which it was released. Like everything else on this album, this is a little touch that adds much. After your Laughter from that amazing (terrible joke), you might have some fun if you listen to this album.