Sound — 7
Paramore started in 2003 after Hayley Williams had been grabbed by Atlantic Records, allegedly for the purpose of turning her into a Top 40 pop singer. Hayley Williams resisted this push by Atlantic, and managed to show the value of letting her and bandmates continue to write and record songs as a band. They were moved to a subsidiary label of Atlantic Records called Fueled by Ramen in order to have more "street cred" and to look more like an indie rock band. Since that time there has been a lot of focus on Hayley as the focal point of the band, creatively, which has caused strife within the ranks. Hayley Williams, according to interviews and such, has defied this perspective stating that the band as a whole is the creative force and that the band is not her solo project. Regardless of Hayley's feelings on the subject, original members and brothers Josh Farro and Zac Farro had had enough by December in 2010 and left the band. Josh Farro posted on his Blogger account afterwards that Paramore was a manufactured band and the product of Atlantic Records, and that Hayley Williams was the only member signed on the record deal. It has been confirmed that Hayley Williams has indeed been the only member signed to the record deal, and with Josh and Zac Farro choosing to leave it did mean that Paramore was at least partially manufactured by Atlantic (as they helped provide replacements for Josh and Zac Farro). I just keep going back to this was originally a band of friends who basically grew up together. Hayley Williams was signed to a record deal and found a way to bring her friends with her and to play the music they had been writing together. The conflict seems to have all been created by the record label being focused on Hayley Williams as a product, over the band as a whole. This self-titled release is Paramore's fourth studio release, and the first release without Zac and Josh Farro. The remaining founding members are Hayley Williams and Jeremy Davis. There are seventeen tracks on the album with a total runtime of just under 64 minutes. Two singles have been released before the album release. The first single "Now" was released on January 22nd, and the second single "Still Into You" was released on March 14th. Drums on the album were covered by Ilan Rubin (Angels & Airwaves and previously NIN), and Taylor York being the sole guitarist (who is also credited with some of the drums from the new album). The little bit of piano played on the album is credited to Hayley Williams. Honestly, I've probably enjoyed the album more than their previous releases. There is something about the album that comes across as more vital than their previous two albums. The kind of energy you could hear in their initial release is back. I can't say that the guitar work or the drums are exceptional, but they are both very solid and serve the songs. The album is very well produced (thanks to Justin Meldal-Johnsen) without sounding overly polished.
Lyrics — 7
Hayley Williams is probably one of the more exceptional female vocalists in modern rock currently, and she has continued to grow as an artist. Her vocal performance on the album is almost flawless. I've wondered if she is using any kind of auto-tune, but if she is they did it pretty tastefully because I can't listen to the album and point it out. You have to give Hayley credit she knows what she is doing with vocals. I don't know if the lyrics are now written by her alone or shared within the band, but the lyrics are solid (with the exception of the songs going too far into the realm of pop for my personal taste).
Overall Impression — 7
I can't imagine how Zac and Josh Farro felt, being founding members of Paramore but not even being considered part of the band to the record label. I'm sure that it would be frustrating. Even trying to release new music or solo projects on the side they would be seen as "those guys from Paramore". I haven't been in the room to know exactly how much influence the record label has over Paramore's sound, or how Zac and Josh were treated. I know from the interviews that I've read that they decided to leave and weren't pushed out, and that says something as well. My favorite song on the album is probably "I'm Not Angry Anymore", which ironically is less than a minute long and is just Hayley Williams and a ukelele. My second favorite song is probably "Future", which is almost eight minutes long. I also enjoyed the tracks "Now" and "Anklebiters". Just to be bluntly honest, some of the songs on the album are extremely pop more than any of their previous songs but there are some really sincere tracks on the album as well. It is a mixed bag with a tendency towards pop music. The energy is good throughout the album, and even when the songs go far into the realm of pop it is at least more cerebral pop than you hear on the radio most of the time.