Sound — 7
As far as this latest release is concerned, Brand New Eyes does seem fitting as it's title, in terms of musical perception, lyrical execution, and overall interpretation. It does seem as though the recording process was approached with a set of brand new eyes with regard to artistic growth, diversity, and overall maturity as a cohesive unit, and above all, these seem to be the underlying elements which are most noticeable throughout the record. With regard to the music itself, Josh Farro's light and bright guitar tones resonate with their usual precision throughout the record, setting that familiar mood, while the vocals of Hailey Williams stay true to form, carrying that familiar softness, an amazing range, and the ability to transform into a powerhouse at any given time. While it is clear that nothing much has changed stylistically in terms of reinventing their musical identity or employing the use of some new techniques, one notable substitution on this record is the addition of acoustic guitars. While this is not an entirely foreign concept to the band, being that most of their musical catalog does translate well acoustically, it is nice to see acoustic tracks make it onto the final cut of the record itself, rather than being done electrically and transcribed acoustically later on, as was usually the case in the past. That being said, the implementation of acoustics on this record does add a nice layer to the record as a whole, and offers a pleasant unplugged feel to the work. Another thing to note with regard to the music is that it seems as though the band has definitely grown since Riot, what I mean by this is that even though the music itself keeps to the style that we have come to expect from Paramore, there seems to be a level of maturity on this record that was not as readily apparent on Riot. Perhaps this has to do with the fact that there don't seem to be as many radio friendly songs amongst the catalog, or the fact that this record does not seem as singles driven as Riot was, or perhaps it has to do with the range of topics on this record, moving beyond theusual topics of high school crushes and teenage angst, whatever the case may be, the maturity of the band as a whole is evident, cutting through the core of the music itself. As far as the tracks themselves are concerned, I found that the record started off strong, became a bit dull somewhere in the middle, and picked up once again towards the end. Perhaps it is simply a matter of personal opinion which might require a few more listens, but that was the first impression I got from this record.
Lyrics — 9
With regard to the lyrics, there is definitely a shift that has taken place on this record. Not only has the lyrical execution itself become further polished in terms of overall songwriting, but the topics discussed and the overall exploration of subject matter has undergone a change as well. Perhaps it is due to the "brand new eyes" in terms of interpreting the world from a new perspective, a shifting worldview, or simply the wisdom gained from the passage of time, whatever the case may be, the changes are apparent, and manifest themselves clearly throughout the record. A few lyrical passages that stand out include: "You say that I've been changing, that I'm not just simply aging, yeah how could that be logical? Just keep on cramming ideas down my throat" "If God's the game that your playing, well we must get more acquainted,cause it has to be so lonely to be the only one who's holy" and "Next time you point the finger, I'll point you to the mirror" from Playing God, as well as: "I scraped my knees while I was praying and found a demon in my safest haven. Seems like it's getting harder to believe in anything and just to get lost in all my selfish thoughts. I wanna know what It'd be like to find perfection in my pride, to see nothing in the light, or turn it off in all my spite, in all my spite, I'll turn it off" From Turn It Off. In lyrical excerpts such as those above, it seems as though the band has gone away from writing about first crushes and teen drama, and instead has taken their songwriting to a different level, delving deeper into the vast catacombs of the self and again, exploring a wider range of topics in the grand scheme of things. That being said, it seems as though the band has indeed matured, and that sense of maturity comes across well throughout the record.
Overall Impression — 8
As far as overall impressions of the record go, Brand New Eyes is a solid record overall. While it does seem to lose some steam towards the middle, it does regain it towards the end and finishes strong. This record is neither going to blow you away with jaw dropping technical skill, nor bore you to death with monotony, but what it will do is give you a dose of the Paramore that you have come to know, as well as offer you a few tidbits here and there along the way that you may not expect. Perhaps Brand New Eyes is a metaphor for a new perspective on life and a new way of looking at the world which we inhabit, perhaps it is a statement of coming into adulthood and viewing the world with a sensibility that only the passage of time will allow, or perhaps it is nothing more than a catchy title, either way, Brand New Eyes is a solid record.