Released after a five-year hiatus, Paramore tackles “hard times” with their sixth studio album This is Why. The album builds on its predecessor After Laughter’s transition from angsty pop-punk to bright synth-pop. It perfectly captures the collective fever dream of post-lockdown life; the world is not the same, and neither is Paramore. One thing that never changes is my infatuation with frontwoman Hayley Williams. Hayley, I am “Still into You.”
Their Myspace days are over, and they refuse to capitalise on early ‘00s nostalgia. They have matured since their feature on the Twilight soundtrack. After Laughter was a technicoloured addition to their eclectic discography and worlds apart from blood-thirsty teen vampires. The album contrasts dark nihilistic lyrics with pastel new-wave tones. The juxtaposition makes the most sense for their track “Fake Happy” as Hayley sings, “ you see it’s easy when I’m stomping on a beat/ but no one sees me when I crawl back underneath”.
This is Why is another example of Paramore’s limitless potential. The track “Running out of Time” speaks to me the most as a final-year university student. As the song says, "intentions only get you so far", and my mental note to start an assignment as soon as possible, though well intended, never happens. My unhealthy perfectionism and procrastination leave me paralysed. I have no choice but to watch as time slips away from me and deadlines creep closer.
Making it to lectures early or on time is a "new sensation" with train delays and cancellations. Like Hayley, “my watch is just for decoration” and “I just hit the snooze on my alarm twenty times.” I doubt I will even make it to my graduation on time.
The music video takes us down the rabbit hole (a guitar case) into a trippy Alice in Wonderland-esc universe. It is fitting as my grades are free-falling, everyone speaks nonsense, and I have gone as mad as a hatter. I smile like a Cheshire cat when I get anything above 60%. I put the dumb in Tweedledum and the dee-pressed in Tweedledee.
Instead of caterpillars, you see students smoking anything they can get their hands on. Life as a student means having a tea party with your friends, except the tea is neat vodka, and you are all sat on your bedroom floor. We use playing cards for a deadly game of Ring of Fire. The hangover makes us wish we were extinct like the dodo bird and that someone would chop off our heads.
Like Hayley in the track “Crave”, I “romanticise even the worst times” and “look up and see a reflection of someone who never gave way to the pain”. The album speaks to the uncertainty and anxiety I felt when I first started university. Lockdown meant that I joined most of my lectures from my bed, and all my preconceptions about student life had gone out of the window. I was lonely and unmotivated, but I never gave way to the pain.
Paramore are not scared to experiment and reinvent themselves. They have evolved both as people and musicians. Their sound has undergone as many changes as Hayley’s hair colour. My favourite will forever be the orange and yellow phase or pink/orange split dye. Which Paramore era is your favourite?
'This Is Why' is out now and accompanies a major South America/US/UK tour kicking off in Argentina today.