For a couple of evenings last October, Paramore were back to being overlords of emo. Nestled alongside My Chemical Romance as co-headliners of Las Vegas’ uber-showcase When We Were Young, the Tennessee trio delved deep into their catalogue, springing only a couple of songs written after 2013 and reminding us why we fell in love in the first place. Evidently, however, not an ounce of that nostalgic pandering has leaked into splendid sixth album This Is Why.
‘If you have an opinion, maybe you should shove it,' Hayley Williams intones over the playful first chords of the title-track. On one hand, it feels like a throwback to the quiet venom with which the singer made her name. On the other, it’s a signpost that she’s proudly going her own way.
Six years since Paramore unveiled the jangly art rock of After Laughter, the songwriting of these 10 tracks feel like a natural evolution: slightly older, slightly wiser, quite a lot more outraged at the state of the world. Beneath its subtly driving math-rock, The News bemoans the overload of bad tidings from around a world that’s crumbling in spite of its connectedness. Running Out Of Time loads its hip-swinging dance beats with the anxiety of the emptying hourglass. The clever-clever C’est Comme Ça (French for ‘that’s just the way it is’) becomes a reckoning on impending middle-age – chiropractic appointments, cutting back on caffeine – with wry good humour.
Hayley and drummer Zac Farro have each dropped a couple of excellent other records in the last few years (her Petals For Armor and Flowers For Vases solo albums; his Natural Disguise and Motif releases with HalfNoise) but it’s remarkable how distinctly Paramore this still sounds. Partly that’s down to the sterling work of producer Carlos de la Garza who’s been with them since 2013’s self-titled landmark. Even more significant is Hayley’s willingness to once again tap into the heightened version of her real persona, trampling over the throbbing bassline of You First, upping the high-energy melodrama on Figure 8, slipping into the almost adolescent heartbreak of Liar.