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Issue Date: Monday, April 01, 2013 Issue: April/May Last Update: Tuesday, May 14, 2013

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At-a-glance

Paramore's self-titled fourth album - Paramore
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                Releasing a few singles to keep their fan base satisfied and reassured after the loss of two key members, Paramore eventually announced the release of their fourth and self-titled album. Diehard fans and casual listeners alike had anticipation and expectations for the new record.

                Paramore informed their fans beforehand that Paramore would be unlike any other of the band’s albums. Interviews prior to the album’s release revealed that the tracks would involve musical components that few would have ever expected to hear coming from Paramore, ranging from ukuleles to gospel choirs. The band definitely took a step out of their usual box, presenting seventeen fresh new songs, including interludes separating the album’s four sides.

                Paramore kicks off with the feel-good “Fast In My Car,” opening with a dance-y drumbeat, synth slides, and a catchy guitar riff. The track is the sort of lighthearted song perfect to fill the first slot on an album, with a feel-good vibe that has listeners wanting more. While Hayley Williams’s voice has matured, the liveliness of her singing in several songs on the album makes her seem more youthful than ever, like on “Daydreaming.” Holistically, the band seem more vivacious, evident in the combination of bassist Jeremy Davis’s funky lines and guitarist Taylor York’s charming riffs. “Anklebiters,” one of the album’s most energetic tracks, is a great example.

Only adding to the more positive tracks on the album, Paramore took it upon themselves to write quite a few pop rock love songs. Single “Still Into You” contains what could be deemed Williams’s sappiest lyrics, referring to her long-running relationship: “And to your favorite song, we sang along to the start of forever.” Each relationship-focused song on Paramore, including “Proof” and “Be Alone,” have upbeat rhythms and easy-to-belt-to choruses that show Williams’s comfort and enthusiasm with her current love life.

Besides its cheery sound and generous length, what really makes Paramore the band’s stand-out album is their experimentalism. The sound of synthesizers surprises listeners from the first song, and their use remains constant throughout most of the album, emphasizing the stronger techno/pop rock influence on Paramore, like on “Grow Up.” The band also take old school sounds and make them their own, evident on 80’s-inspired “Ain’t It Fun,” featuring xylophone flourishes and a gospel choir, and 50’s-sounding, Best Coast-esque “(One of Those) Crazy Girls,” in which castanets are used. To add to the list of instruments Paramore picked up on the new album, a ukulele is the only one used on each interlude, paired with vocals, introducing listeners to short and sweet chunks of raw feeling.

Paramore, never the poster band of cheeriness, do have some pretty poignant songs on the new album as well. “Last Hope” is a moving, five-minute track that features slow chords and arpeggios that build to a strong climax, complete with group vocals. The country-like “Hate To See Your Heart Break” is a sweet, slow song with a soft beat and falsettos. Each show the band’s dive into trying out slow songs for a change.

Despite their progression in musicality, however, Paramore does retain some of their older, heavier sound. “Part II,” the sequel to “Let the Flames Begin,” does sound different, yet the powerful, passion-driven drumbeats and tear-worthy vocal belts reminiscent of Paramore’s earlier albums make a reappearance. The same sort of emotive, heart-wrenching instrumentality shows up again on the album’s closer, “Future,” which ends with an explosion of emotion, making it a strong closing track.

Overall, Paramore turned out to be something unexpected. Despite the warnings that it would be unlike any other album, Paramore outdid themselves, pushing the boundaries of their musical comfort zone. The album is diverse and takes listeners on quite an emotional journey, through highs and lows alike. Whether you were or weren’t a fan before Paramore, you deserve to give it a listen.


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