After a lengthy six years since the release of “After Laughter” (2017), Paramore fans are finally being rewarded for their patience with the band’s new album, “This Is Why” (2023).
The group has progressively built up anticipation for their latest album with their singles, “This Is Why,” “The News” and “C’est Comme Ça,” including a tour within North America before the initial release of the album. Their tour unveiled the excitement of long-term fans and those in support of their future work. The three singles give a stark contrast to Paramore’s mature, evolved sound across the album.
The album begins with the title track “This Is Why.” Guitar strumming slowly enters and the song slightly feels hollow, building up momentum once the drums start. Hayley Williams sings, “You can keep it to yourself,“ and in a way, draws out her words. Once she reaches the bridge, she is singing with a lot more force. It is later belted out, “This is why I don’t leave the house / You say the coast is clear / But you won’t catch me out.” In a sense, it feels as if the instruments reach a new level of intensity just as Williams’s vocals do — as if she is arguing with someone. Having been in Paramore for almost a whopping 20 years, Williams has received lots of scrutiny, ranging from her song “Misery Business” to her personal business being aired out publicly. Hence, the reason she would find it difficult to leave her own home and, “If you have an opinion / Maybe you should shove it.”
“The News” does not allow the listener to ease into the song the way the previous track did. It immediately dives into the intensity surrounding the issue of war and media in general. Touching on a topic that has become quite more prominent with the development of social media, Williams sings out, “Every second, our collective heart breaks / All together, every single head shakes / Shut your eyes, but it won’t go away.” Bringing into consideration that despite being far from an issue, it is painful to know that immediate action is not in reach for ordinary folks and sometimes the most the audience can do is “… worry and … give money and … feel useless behind [a] computer.”
“Running out of time” takes a turn from the initial feel of the album yet is consistent with the messages being delivered to fans. Being quite the relatable track for many, it focuses on procrastination and the endless guilt that ensues when one does not finish or make progress with their goals. The lyrics describe, “Shoulda, coulda, wouldn’t matter, ultimate alibi / You know it’s a lie,” and points to how Paramore’s lead singer continues to make excuses for herself and knows that she is the cause of her own time running short.
“C’est Comme Ça,” which roughly translates to “It is what it is,” describes her own addiction to chaos and friction in her life. It repeatedly swaps between lines of french and chants of, “Na-Na-Na” in between lines in a self-destructive frenzy. In this track, Hayley Williams feels as if she is physically aging faster than she actually is while wondering how one can either “Sit still long enough to listen to yourself / Or maybe just long enough for you to atrophy to hell.” Ultimately, she recognizes her efforts toward self-improvement, she thrives in an element of instability.
Track five, “Big Man, Little Dignity” begins to take a turn for the better. It gives a sweet melancholic feeling when played and sounds like a song straight out of a film’s soundtrack. The lyrics detail the physical appearance of a “big man” with a“little dignity” that is able to “…get away with anything…” It is an endless struggle with the inability to withdraw attraction yet realize that the so-described man is not someone who will ever change. The song describes almost a universal struggle of wanting someone to be good for you, yet they never will be.
“You First,” moves on from past wrongdoings and makes peace with what others have done to you. In this song, Williams sings out, “Just like a stray animal / I keep feeding scraps / I give it my energy / And it keeps on coming back.” She is at the whim of her own need for revenge and pettiness and constantly faces an internal struggle. She further notes, “Which wolf wins? / I guess it really depends, just gotta wait and see / Which one’s appеtite’s the biggest? / Turns out I’m livin’ in a horror film / Whеre I’m both the killer and the final girl.” Hayley William’s puzzlement in whether she is both the perpetrator and the victim leaves her confused about where she stands and questions her own morality.
Entering with a vibraphone and curious sound, “Figure 8” narrates the emotions and turmoil that come with losing yourself in a toxic relationship. Feeling like she is constantly going in loops with herself, Williams presents what it feels like to lose yourself in a relationship and become everything you swore not to become. Perfected and well-written, the lyrics state “What remains / And now I think I’m losing my shape / Not a trace / No end and no beginning, figure eight.” The band has truly honed the emotion that goes into losing oneself in a relationship and feeling as if there is no light at the end of a dark tunnel.
The Paramore fan base was taken by storm when Williams and Taylor York entered a relationship last Sept. “Liar” comes to terms with what she felt for band-member York and the distress that ensued. “I got too good at fighting chemicals / And dodgin’ arrows I was asking for / Wading through the fog and then it disappeared,” explains William’s emotions while dodging her true feelings for York and the extra mile she had to go to actively avoid such feelings. Laced in the chorus, it feels as if she is speaking directly to her fellow band member and recognizes that she never needed to lie to him as he always knew the truth.
“Crave” is somehow able to pinpoint the limbo of wanting to live in the moment, yet already predicting how enjoyable the nostalgia will feel later. Williams reminisces about painful moments she has experienced when she explains, “I romanticize even the worst of times / When all it took to make me cry was bein’ alive.” It is a fascinating and wondrous feeling to forever be trying to absorb a moment in time yet realize how quickly you will eventually be reliving such moments in your head, leaving you craving for such a feeling and never being truly satisfied.
Bringing the album to a close, “Thick Skull” is a call for self-realization — you either continuously relive a lesson or ultimately move on. Throughout the album, Williams acknowledges that she is a major conduit in her problems; she is an individual who indulges in destructive habits, and destructive people. “Thick Skull” describes how Williams continuously keeps hurting herself, yet remains guilty of hurting others. With verses that read, “Only I know where all the bodies are buriеd / Thought by now I’d find ’em just a little less scary,” it is further implied that she has attempted to bury her own thoughts after hurting these individuals, though she can not move on from thinking of them.
Lined up with a total of 10 tracks for a total of 36 minutes, Paramore encapsulates destructive patterns, winding up in unhealthy relationships and the consequences of media. Ultimately, it boils down to the struggles Paramore has faced, yet a collection of works that connect with a widespread audience.
Lyrically, Paramore has outdone themselves by being able to communicate emotions one would not usually think to verbalize. “This Is Why” is a powerful successor to “After Laughter” and displays the overall growth of the band.
For now, fans can look forward to Paramore gearing up for their next tour to display their wide array of new songs from “This Is Why.” With much excitement, many are thrilled to witness the album live and new interviews from the band.
Lexis Pham is an Arts & Entertainment Staff Writer. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.