In December 2010, two of Paramore’s founding members left the Tennessee-based pop-punk band in a move that was officially reported as an amicable split. But former lead guitarist Josh Farro blogged his own version of the story, telling tales of a band “riding on the coattails of [frontwoman] ‘Hayley’s dream’”, his relationship and split with said singer, and spats over biblical representations in the band’s lyrics (the post was signed “All of the glory be to God, Josh and Zac”).
Despite, and due to the drama, Paramore presses on as the 24-year-old Williams returns with guitarist Taylor York and Jeremy Davis on bass. It’s been two years since their original fault line cracked, and the new self-titled sounds like a band that’s happily hastened with fresh and urgent upbeat pop-rock, yet reads like the opposite with lyrics centering on the wounds of the demise of the group that defined Williams’ formative years. “I’ve been through the ringer a couple times / I came up callous and cruel,” she croons on punchy-guitar-meets-electronic-effects album opener “Fast In My Car”. One of two unexpected-yet-welcomed ukulele-based interludes has her singing, “Let ‘em rise and rise / Cause one day they’re gonna fall.” And the rapid “Ankle Biters” offers advice like, “Fall in love with yourself / Because someday you’re gonna be the only one you got.”
Beneath the lyrics live a less-than-cohesive batch of songs. But when the band allows each track a little more breathing room, they show some growth and have a good time doing it. This is best displayed on the almost-jazzy “Ain’t It Fun” and high-school-girl-anthem “Still Into You”. As Paramore ages, they creep further into the pop sphere, a positive segue as almost every song on the album boasts a hook that could dominate top 40 radio. While this allows Paramore to surpass brand new eyes, the slightly disjointed nature of the 17 tracks and lyrics that could still stand to mature hopefully make this record a stepping stone for Paramore 2.0., leaving fans satisfied yet more intrigued for what might lie ahead.
Essential Tracks: “Ain’t It Fun”, “Still Into You”