By: Jackson Diol
When Paramore announced their fall 2022 tour that summer, eager fans knew the trio was setting something up. In 2023, it has been nearly six years since Paramore released their 2017 album After Laughter. In the years since fans and music fans have gained more appreciation towards the band’s songwriting and Hayley Williams’s vocals not only in After Laughter but in the band’s discography overall. Although Paramore was founded more than 15 years ago, their sound still feels relevant today. Their pop-punk style has been replicated by the like of Machine Gun Kelly and Olivia Rodrigo.
In the years leading up to This Is Why, Hayley Williams released two solo albums, Petals For Armor (2020) and FLOWERS for VASES / descansos (2021). Both albums were a departure from Paramore’s usual sound and went in a more singer-songwriter direction. The albums were critically revived well, and a tour was even planned that got canceled because of COVID-19. Due to the pop-punk revival from the start of the decade, it makes a lot of sense for Paramore to regroup. The only question remaining is if the band made the six-year-long wait worth it.
This Is Why
The Introduction of the album foretells the rest of the album. It’s immediately apparent that this album will ditch much of the dance influence in exchange for rocking indie guitars. Lyrically, the song delves into the paranoia of stepping out into the world. Williams is most likely connecting the lyrics to the current political state of America.
If “This Is Why” gently covered politics, “The News” greatly covers politics. The political frustration of the song is found in the first few words, “War, a war, a war, on the far side of the planet.” In these lyrics, Williams is mostly referencing the horrible Russian invasion of Ukraine. The entire song is about the horrible tragedies audiences see on the news and how we should turn the news off. Instrumentally, the song is more rocking and intense than the first.
Running Out Of Time
“Running Out Of Time” diverges away from the political angle the first two songs possessed. The song is about how Williams feels as if she is running out of time. Williams seems devasted about having bad time management. The song also features much less intense instrumentation compared to the last two songs.
C’est Comme Ca
In “C’est Comme Ca” Williams admits to not having control of the whole world. Here Williams is thriving and feels very comfortable living in this reality. This is a complete contrast to the previous song where Williams’s ability to not control was to her detriment. New wave and camp influence is all over the song. Pounding guitar riffs litter throughout the entire song.
Big Man, Little Dignity
“Big Man, Little Dignity” is exactly what the title implies. Williams sings about a man whom she cannot take her eyes off. This man is not desirable, in fact, it’s quite the opposite. This man has done many people wrong, and Williams is stunned by how he has not faced any consequences. Although she believes this man will never change, she keeps on thinking he will eventually lose or face the consequences.
Continuing with the same themes of the last song, “You First” finds Williams wants to find someone to meet karma. During the chorus, Williams sings how “karmas gonna come for all of us, And I hope, I just Hope, She comes for you first.” In this song, Karma is a being who will eventually meet everyone at some point in life. The chorus of the song also sounds like early, pop-punk Paramore.
“Figure 8” is the third song in a row dealing directly with a toxic person. Williams in this incident finds herself emotionally drained due to a bad relationship. The song continues the streak of having pounding guitars we’ve heard in the previous few songs. The end of the song features this experimental explosion featuring many different guitar sounds.
“Liar” is the calmest, the most laid-back song on the tracklist. Unlike the previous three songs, Williams is not fighting against someone who has wronged her but rather herself. She finally feels it is okay to feel love and be in a good relationship. Williams singing throughout the entire song is very reminiscent of Lana Del Rey’s singing style.
The second to last song in the tracklist finds Williams accepting and wanting to do all of life’s thrills again. Williams seems very nostalgic about all the times, including the good and bad times. I find this point of the album to be extremely important. Williams has finally found acceptance in life and finds a desire to live out the thrills again.
The final song, “Thick Skull” is an explosive conclusion to the album. Williams here wishes she didn’t find herself in bad situations all the time. She blames this frequent occurrence on her thick skull. The song progressively gets louder and louder with a scream-out chorus at the end. The final song beautifully wraps up Paramore’s comeback album.
After six years of not realizing music, Paramore comes out with one of their strongest albums to date. The album is a perfect piece of where the band is today and where the world is currently. This Is Why is the exact album that perfectly encapsulates the current state of politics and the current state of Hayley Williams. In fact, this album is the first Paramore album since Haley Williams’s divorce which left her devastated. Her ex-husband could be the man she is frustrated with throughout the album.
The album’s instrumentation is booming and punching in the most perfect way possible. Paramore’s knack for powerful riffs continues to exist and thrive. Even in the slow moments, the record still manages to keep tension and pacing. Taylor York and Josh Farro do an amazing job crafting catchy, sticky riffs and backing instrumentation. Overall, This Is Why was well worth the six-year wait and then some.