Review: ‘This Is Why’ shows Paramore’s musical maturity

Punk band, Paramore, introduces its new album, This Is Why. Photo courtesy of Spotify.

By Tyler White | Reporter

Remember the mid to late 2000s? You know, the time when groups like Paramore were inescapable as the air was filled with the angsty teen anthems of the time. “Misery Business” and “That’s What You Get” were some of the defining songs of the generation, leading the anthemic charge.

Fast forward to 2023, and how the times have changed. Following the evolution of their previous record, “After Laughter,” Paramore continues to abandon their pop-punk roots of the past for a more indie-rock and post-punk focused style with an almost vintage tinge. “This Is Why” shows Paramore naturally progressing into a groovy, melodically infectious sound that captures the maturity of the crew’s songwriting capabilities.

For the first half of the record, “This Is Why” feels like a subdued, less vibrant spectacle of “After Laughter.” However, that’s not to say that Paramore has lost their catchiness. “Running Out Of Time” and the title track are characterized by mellow verses with subtle bass lines and simplistic drum grooves which explode into choruses filled with infectious melodies.

“C’est Comme Ça,” albeit slightly irritating, has an ear worm of a chorus and “Big Man, Little Dignity,” though restrained in nature, packs a punch in the harmonies that easily get stuck in your head.

Yet, beyond all the catchiness, Paramore brings some interesting changes to their sound. “The News” has a more post-punk-esque style that gives more drive and slight aggression to the early moments of “This Is Why,” while “C’est Comme Ça” dives into a Talking Heads style of spoken word verses with a melancholic tinge. These more abrasive shifts in style starkly contrast the powerful composition of the second half of the record, but not in an entirely disjointed manner.

The final stretch of “This Is Why” solidifies itself as one of the strongest in Paramore’s discography. Full of somber melodic progressions and a balance between the band’s tension-and-release dynamic, the latter half of the record contains some of the group’s most powerful songs. “Figure 8,” with its building verses, explodes in a wonderful chemistry of instrumentation, with Hayley Williams’ vocals soaring over the powerful rhythm. “Liar” and “Crave” tone down the intensity and rely on relaxed grooves that are highlighted by captivating melodies that float along, with the former being a beautifully composed ballad-like track that is carried along by a harmony of mellow vocals.

However, the mastery of “This Is Why” is fully embodied within the concluding track, “Thick Skull,” which embraces both the serious tone of the record with some of the angsty power captured early on. This slow burn track takes its time as it builds each section with new subtleties, erupting into a cacophony of vocals and instrumentation, bringing the tension of the entire record to a final close.

Despite the tonal difference between the first and second halves, the contrast serves as a medium for the message of the tracks. The catchier, more upfront, tracks bring about the more aggressively-charged social commentary, where the restrained and quieter sections of the latter half feature a more personal, relatable tone. Yet, this contrast doesn’t set itself up as a divide. Instead, the album manages to flow almost seamlessly across the tracklist with its catchy and vulnerable moments. Sure, “This Is Why” might not be the same Paramore of those nostalgic angsty years, but it’s exactly what is needed from them in this day and age.