New listener

Paramore reaches further depth and maturity in their new album “This is Why”

New listener

Helena Erdahl, Coverage Editor-in-Chief

Alternative rock band Paramore has been seen as an influence on the genre for the past two decades. This band has been together for twenty years, and their style has changed tremendously over time. As they have progressed from an angsty teen group to a more sophisticated sound, their lyricism, and overall message has evolved as well. You can hear all of this in their newest album, “This is Why,” released Feb. 10. This release is the first from Paramore in the five years since their last album “After Laughter” released in 2017.

The album starts out with “This is Why,” which was also the lead single for the album. On it, Paramore explores classic rock elements and introversion in the lyrics. These lyrics are closely related to the effects that COVID-19 had on our views on life, as they explore anxiety, lack of timeliness, loss of “people skills” that were forgotten as a result of the lockdown, and the stress of a constant news cycle. These themes are mentioned throughout the entire album and this album is closely focused on the continuing impacts of COVID-19 on mental health. 

Additionally, this album explores the personal lives of the writers. Hayley Williams, the lead singer of Paramore, delved into her complicated relationship with her fellow band member and partner, Taylor York. Williams expressed in an interview that the song “Liar” is mainly targeted towards York and her feelings about their relationship. Williams expresses this with the lyrics, “Love is not an easy thing to admit/ But I’m not ashamed of it.”  

When something has an ease to it and when something feels healthy and again, like, respectful, it must be wrong,” Williams said in an interview with Zane Lowe. “And I fought that feeling and said to myself that ‘that’s just a convenient thing, you’re just trying to go to where maybe your ego likes it,’ I just made up anything that I could.” 

These lyrics in the song “Liar” are some of the best on the album. Williams excels in creating a personal connection between herself and the listener by sharing vulnerable parts of her life. She explores how she is scared of hurting York, if they pursue a relationship, and how she has grown to accept that she loves him. 

In addition, Williams utilizes strong imagery, singing “I got too good at fighting chemicals/And dodging arrows I was asking for.” While these lyrics are skillfully curated, the simplicity of the concepts were appreciated. Throughout the track, she is experiencing a variety of emotions about this relationship as she explores denial and her fear of harming York if they pursue a relationship, then acceptance as the song progresses. Personally, “Liar” was the high point of the album as a result of their lyrical prowess and powerful imagery. 

While the lyricism utilized in this album is their greatest strength, this album held other strong notes. The maturity of this record and how it corresponds with modern times was a valuable aspect. The variety of the songs, and moods was refreshing. I appreciate how several of the songs accompany classic rock, and others explore sadder moods, and more indie elements. This album encompasses the issues that numerous people are experiencing today, making the songs relatable to a larger audience. 

The last track, “Thick Skull,” was the first song written for “This is Why.” It explores self-hatred and reflects on Williams’ biggest insecurities throughout her singing career. This is reflected through lyrics such as “Thick skull never did/Nothing for me/ Same lesson again?” This track was a high point because of its depth and personability— its exploration of self-doubt can be relatable to everyone, and act as a way to comfort Williams as she shares her struggle with this topic as well. 

While Williams explores self-hatred in this track, she acknowledges frustration in personal relationships, with the lyrics, “I pick em up and now my fingers are bleedin’/ And it looks like my fault.” Again, this album succeeds in showing progress in emotional maturity, while expressing anger at these issues. This track is very therapeutic in a way, because it conveys when processing traumatic events or relationships, it’s okay to still feel anger for the situation. 

Overall, this album succeeds in a lot of ways. “This is Why” delivers a very specific sound, with 80s influences throughout the tracks and some modern production choices. This new style they are adopting is interesting, but, as a new listener, the album wasn’t ultimately memorable after my first listen. As a whole, this album was entertaining but unimpactful.