Experienced listener


Audrey Lippert, Print Editor-in-Chief

Paramore’s constantly evolving sound allows the band to showcase a new facet of their talents, with each successive release. With the exception of their earliest works, Paramore continues to explore new musical pathways in each new album, including their most recent “This Is Why.” The band’s sixth album leans into a more indie sound, while maintaining some of the electronic elements present on their previous album “After Laughter,” which at the time of its release, six years ago, was a sharp departure from their usual rock-driven pop sound. Despite the shifting lineups and genres of the band, Paramore has maintained a distinct sound throughout their almost 20 year career due to the unique voice and songwriting of frontwoman Hayley Williams and “This Is Why” is no exception.

As a whole, “This Is Why” still manages to feel like a natural progression from the band while being drastically different from its predecessors. The sound of this album fuzes Paramore’s pop-punk roots with its more recent electronic leanings and a completely new indie style. Songs like “Figure 8” and “You First” would not feel out of place on older albums like 2009’s “Brand New Eyes” or 2007’s “Riot!,” while “Running Out of Time” and “Liar” could easily fit on 2013’s “Paramore” or 2017’s “After Laughter.” Simultaneously, every song on “This Is Why” feels connected and unique in their instrumentals, which all feature an element of contrast. 

Throughout the album, quiet verses are accompanied by bombastic choruses that keep listeners on their toes and detailed soundscapes that allow listeners to pick up on new pieces of the instrumental with each repeated listen. This is most prevalent on the closing song of the album “Thick Skull,” which spends the majority of its runtime building to a soaring final chorus that showcases the vocal talents of Williams, the intricate guitar work of Taylor York, and the polished drumming of Zac Farro. The contrast throughout the song builds tension and makes the final chorus much more rewarding, leading to a satisfying conclusion to the album.

Beyond the instrumentals, Williams’ melancholic and mature lyricism is once again a progression from previous albums that ties this one together. While Williams’ teen angst on songs like the 2007 hit “Misery Business” from “Riot!” catapulted them to fame, her quiet anger that seeps into many of the songs on “This Is Why” feels like a more mature way to voice similar feelings of malcontent. The best example of this is on “You First,” a song about the inevitability of karma in which Williams sings, “Living well is not my kind of revenge/ You should take it from me/Living well is just a privilege/ Thought I’d simmer down as I got older/ Can’t shake the devil sitting on my shoulder.”

Another facet of Williams’ lyrical success is her ability to cover relatable topics, allowing new and old listeners to connect with Paramore’s music. The title track “This Is Why” explores ideas of anxiety about leaving your house and interacting with the world, feelings that were heightened by COVID-19 and impacted a large segment of the population while the world was in lockdown. Williams is not afraid to explore even the most boring parts of her life exemplified by “Running Out of Time,” which tackles the mundane idea of simply not having enough time to accomplish the little things in life, and Williams’ feeling like she is constantly running out of time, which is a phenomenon that impacts all people no matter their position in life. The relatability of this album is refreshing in a world of social media, in which people are constantly exposed to impossibly perfect idealized versions of reality. 

Clocking in at a runtime of just 36:12, “This Is Why” is a relatively short album. This works to its advantage as no song feels too long or short, and where previous Paramore albums like 2013’s “Paramore” may have dragged in the middle, “This Is Why” feels concise and powerful. Each song is impactful and unique, leaving no room for repetitive filler tracks. 

Overall, the album is a perfect blend of old and new that harkens back to some of their earliest work while still feeling fresh and different. There is a song for every type of Paramore fan on “This Is Why,” along with experimental elements that could bring in new listeners. The combination of Williams’ tasteful lyrics, spectacular vocals, and York and Farro’s excellent instrumentation makes “This Is Why” Paramore’s best album yet, and a continuation of their evolution from “emo” band to alternative rock staple.