Paramore Triumphantly Turn Over A New Leaf on their Cynical yet Heartfelt Sixth Album ‘This Is Why’

Written by on February 13, 2023

The genre-neutral band from Tennessee continue to prove themselves as the band we know and love, as they released their sixth album full of evolved sounds, rage, apathy and revelation.

Paramore is known for being the female-fronted pop-rock band that features lead singer Hayley Williams, guitarist Taylor York and drummer Zac Farro. After going through multiple stints and lineup changes, they have finally settled down into a powerful groove that deems Paramore as a force to be reckoned with. The band released their critically acclaimed fifth album After Laughter in 2017, followed by multiple tours around the world. Once they officially ended the era at their Art + Friends in Nashville, the band went on a needed hiatus to get back in touch with themselves. The break also resulted in two solo records for Williams, as she voiced her struggles with depression and mental health issues.

Paramore (Taylor York, Hayley Williams, Zac Farro). Photo courtesy of NME.

Williams stated in an interview with Rolling Stone that the band was back to making music in early 2022, and now that sixth album has arrived. It’s safe to say that This Is Why is by far their most confident record to date, as it focuses a new and daring sound and hones in on personal touches/experiences. Their sound is forever changing for the better, and (sorry to break it to you, but…) it seems like Paramore is not returning to the mid-2000s sound they are known for (but we promise, it’s not a bad thing). Even with being in a scene full of misogyny since their founding and facing constant criticism for not “returning to their old sound,” they break through the obstacles and show that they use that criticism to their advantage. After all, they are the ones who said: “If you have an opinion, maybe you should SHOVE it.”

This Is Why starts off with the title track of the same name, in which the band claimed was the final song they wrote for the album. It goes through the notions of isolation, something everyone can relate to, using a funky guitar/bass riff and strong percussion. This is only the beginning, as it then transitions to the raging track about the cynical news cycle society has become accustomed in “The News,” a more political note focusing on a parasocial frenzy.

Running Out Of Time” (a song inspired by longtime friend Taylor Swift) takes things in a different direction, although still in the scope of isolation. Williams sings about poor time management and procrastination, and how it’s worsened over the years due to mental health struggles. The song is accompanied by ascending instrumentations, where Farro’s drum beats shine bright and York’s jolting chord progressions dynamically compliment Williams’ vocals. The essential necessity of chaos carries over to the next track ​“C’est Comme Ça,” which features a catchy yet repetitive chorus, witty humor about chiropractic appointments/how easy it is to be attached to chao, all while using unique sprechsang techniques never heard before on a Paramore track.

This Is Why has a few standout tracks, the main one being the high-energy “You First” as it has the Brand New Eyes-esque alternative rock sound. “You First” is about their perspective of karma, and it showcases how the songwriting has matured so much since they first began, Williams chants some of the most iconic lyrics in the album:

Turns out I’m livin’ in a horror film

Whеre I’m both the killer and the final girl

So, who, who are you?

Hayley Williams from Paramore, “You First” from This Is Why

The vitality doesn’t stop there – “Figure 8” serves as the sister song to “C’est Comme Ça” in terms of lyrics, as it emphasizes on feeling stuck in a cycle. York/Farro once again spotlight their musical talents, as York provides a shimmering guitar pattern and Farro amps up the energy with a frenetic backing cadence.

The hints to the band’s previous works as well as Williams’ solo work are endless. The beginning of “Liar” mimics the soundscape heard in “Descansos” (from Flowers for Vases/Descansos released in early 2021), as well as a sudden hint to the track “Crystal Clear” (from Petals for Armor). The majestic-like ballad discusses how Williams denied falling in love due to past experiences and sentimental attachments. She sings about her love experiences in other Paramore/solo works, but “Liar” feels like the final chapter – she succumbed to her feelings, realized love is not easy to admit and that there’s no shame in it. From falling in love, to breaking off a marriage, to realizing hidden true feelings – it’s a beautiful sentiment, perfectly told within a well-written serenade.

“I am a magnet for broken pieces / I am attracted to broken people” – the first lyrics from the final gut-punch of a song. The band always nail the final song of their albums (like “Future” from Self-Titled and “All I Wanted” from Brand New Eyes), but the poignant “Thick Skull” is one of the best endings to an album ever written. This was the first song Paramore wrote for the sixth album, in which they referred to it as the “sonic departure” to After Laughter. The track captures the contrasts to its predecessor – a more shoegaze sound due to York’s vigorous guitar clash and Farro’s jolting rhythms, all tied together by Williams’ compelling vocal range. It opened doors to a clean slate, steering away from the band’s insecurities and not allowing criticism to get in their way. “Thick Skull” is a metaphor for the new road that Paramore is paving themselves, a brand new future.

This Is Why starts off full of vivacity and slowly fades into harrowing territory, all while depicting musical experimentation and lyrical ambition (something the band is familiar with). While each song serves an individual message, all of the songs perfectly weave into each other and feel like an interconnected junction to the overall message of revelation and importance of growth. Besides a few monotone progressions throughout a few songs, the album is almost flawless from beginning to end. It doesn’t quite top the band’s previous record, but This Is Why has something in store for all listeners. Paramore’s sixth album shows maturity in all directions, proving to be a solid addition to the band’s discography and a fundamental step into the band’s new state of contemporary independence.

Album Artwork for This Is Why. Image by Zachary Gray.

This Is Why by Paramore was released on February 10th, 2023 and is available on all streaming platforms.

Want to see Paramore on tour? Check to see if they are coming to a city near you and get your tickets here.

  • Keylee Paz

    I am a UH Graduate Student majoring in Mass Communications, a UT Austin alum and an aspiring music journalist! My hobbies include photography, traveling for shows/festivals and taking strolls with my husky baby Luna Zoe.

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