American rock band Paramore brings some infectious, offbeat tunes in their sixth studio album, This Is Why, released on Feb. 10 under Atlantic Records. This new album encompasses Paramore’s iconic sounds and their journey as a band through the pandemic with the songs “This Is Why,” “Running Out of Time,” and “C'est Comme Ça.”
This Is Why is a tribute to the older music the band grew up with and inspired the band. The album is a very guitar-driven compilation, containing a lot of punk sounds integrated with the previous album’s new wave melodies. However, its lyrical content allows Paramore’s fans and listeners to ponder different experiences and moments from the pandemic.
Opening with the title track, “This Is Why,” the song is the first single Paramore released before the album dropped. It covers pandemic-induced anxieties as it deals with the disorder of agoraphobia, which is the fear of entering open or crowded places or leaving one's own home. It perfectly captures those feelings of worry that come with physically interacting with people. Besides that, the song tells its listeners to be more empathetic to others.
The next single, “The News,” brings back the heavy angst and explosive drums of Zac Farro that are classic to Paramore’s sound. For frontwoman Hayley Williams, “The 24-hour news cycle is just impossible to comprehend. And I feel a pang of guilt when I unplug to protect my headspace,” which sums up the rage of dissociation seen in its verses and hypnotic chorus. The song accompanies a music video inspired by horror movies and thrillers. There’s a disturbing vibe and allure to what Paramore wants to convey with the theme.
For the latest single, “Running Out of Time,” Williams pokes fun at her time management skills. With the song’s more pop-punk and indie-rock personality, its steady tempo details Williams’ frustration with not being in control of things and her resistance to change. She belts out, “I’m always running out of time,” while telling listeners in the verses about how being disorganized impacts her everyday life.
The fourth track of This Is Why is “C'est Comme Ça,” which translates to “It is what it is” in French. Williams accepts that some things in life won’t always go her way, and chaos is sometimes needed to keep going. The band has also mentioned that this song has taken influence from American rock band Talking Heads’ new wave and post-punk sound. With Paramore’s guitarist Taylor York, this fourth track is catchy yet thought-provoking. Lyrically, “C'est Comme Ça” outlines that longing for chaos with its strong melodies: "I know that regression is rarely rewarded. I still need a certain degree of disorder!”
Another notable track, “Figure 8,” is grittier and heavier, which recalls elements from Paramore’s older songs like “Monster.” “Figure 8” expresses desperation in its lyrics as Williams cries out, “All for your sake. Became the very thing that I hate. I lost my way. Spinning in an endless figure eight.” It builds up from its poetic first verse until it erupts into its volatile and intense chorus.
A break from the fiery tracks, “Liar” is a love song that depicts Williams and York’s relationship. In an interview with Nylon, Williams recounted the initial anxiety and fear after she realized she was falling for York. She even admitted to going to great lengths to lie to herself and York about her feelings (though sweetly), but the latter always knew the truth. The change in tone in the song’s second verse is a realization for Williams that the feelings she has for York aren’t anything to be ashamed of. This delicately made song is charming and gives a poetic lyricism similar to “Hate to See Your Heart Break” from Paramore’s self-titled album.
Overall, This Is Why is a love letter to Paramore’s earlier roots as a band. It shows the band’s growth, maturity, and openness to experiment with other sounds. They didn’t let their roots define their identity, especially during the After Laughter era.
Much time and effort seemed to be devoted to writing each song, as there aren’t any skips in this collection. One could even loop the album for hours to find that each piece sounds newer with every listen. It’s a definite treat to all kinds of Paramore fans.
- “Big Man, Little Dignity” - A song about “Men who aren’t accountable for their actions,” it calls out the lack of integrity for men who have a big ego and no integrity. Moreover, it’s even directed at men who now know how to treat women respectfully.
- “Thick Skull” - As the album’s closing track, this song reflects Williams’ insecurities throughout her career. It’s a song about leaving all her fears in the past and its steady tempo makes it another track that hypnotizes its listeners.
This Is Why mesmerizes its listeners with its surreal guitar loops and engaging lyrics that reminisce pandemic experiences for the band. While the album is full of hunger and thought, it offers listeners a glimpse into what Paramore is all about, again encompassing all eras and sounds that made people fall in love and rock out with them.