Parmore, ‘Paramore’ – Album Review
The most revealing track on Paramore’s fourth album is also its thinnest. “Let them play their songs, let them say what’s right and wrong / … I could be angry, but you’re not worth the fight, and besides, I’m moving on,” Hayley Williams sings on the 90-second ‘Interlude: Moving On,’ a brief ukulele-strummed throwaway that shows up a third of the way through ‘Paramore.’ It’s the most disposable track on an overlong album that has several of them. But it’s also the record’s statement of purpose.
In the years between Paramore’s last album, 2009’s ‘Brand New Eyes’ and ‘Paramore,’ the cofounders of the group went through a nasty breakup that left Williams in complete control. She also scored the biggest hit of her career singing the hook on B.o.B’s massive 2010 hit ‘Airplanes.’ In other words, she outgrew her band. Or at least her old bandmates.
So, ‘Paramore’ wants it both ways: It’s both a new group album and Williams’ first solo record. There’s some old-school pop-punk like the Tennessee band splattered all over their 2005 debut (‘Now’), as well as some tougher-sounding grooves (‘Fast in My Car’) and warmer ballads (‘Hate to See Your Heart Break’). But there are also plenty of new pop moves that Williams picked up over the past four years. And that’s where ‘Paramore’ gets complicated and good.
Now that she’s calling the shots, Williams substitutes the chunky guitars with shimmering melodies. She’s always had a thing for big pop hooks (see ‘That’s What You Get’ from 2007’s ‘Riot!’), but on ‘Paramore,’ she lets loose an entire brigade of them. ‘Grow Up,’ ‘Daydreaming,’ ‘Last Hope’ and ‘Still Into You’ are radio-ready hits in waiting. She even tries on some funky Prince-style synths in ‘Ain’t It Fun.’
But they don’t leave much room for the rest of Paramore, now an anonymous backing band, at this point. Williams occasionally puts on the face of democracy, which drags out the album for more than an hour. Why bother? She should have just trimmed the band fat and gone with her instincts and made the great pop solo album she wanted to. She’s most of the way there anyway.