With the promising release of the single “Now,” Paramore’s self-titled fourth album appeared to be headed in the right direction for the newly-diminished lineup of the band. But now the 17-song album dropped, and fans are in for a dramatic turn in the band’s sound.
What used to be a powerhouse of punk rock has now turned into a vocal-oriented indie/pop band with a sound only vaguely reminiscent of the unique style that Paramore proved itself with. The opening track of the album, “Fast In My Car,” surprises listeners with a retro drumbeat backed by electronic effects and a new fuzz guitar tone that permeates the whole album.
By eschewing the natural progression set forth by the previous three albums, the new album has turned out to be, for the most part, a disappointment; with the exception of a few select songs like “Part II” and “Future,” these new songs are almost unrecognizable as being Paramore.
The sixth track, “Ain’t it Fun”, starts off in a solid direction, but veers off into a confusingly-placed bluesy choir which ultimately ends the song with a whimper. Even their soft love song, “I Hate to See Your Heart Break,” only brings a lack of excitement and style that could never live up to the immensely popular ballad “The Only Exception” off of their third album. If it weren’t for the vocalist’s (Hayley Williams) growing writing style and vocal skill backed by the scarcely-heard airy guitar leads trademarked on their platinum-selling second album Riot!, there would be nothing to carry over from the sound they built themselves upon.
The band was not expected to release a repeat, but this album represents a change in the band’s style that does more harm than good; progression is one thing, but changing genres is another. Even the single that was released shortly after the lineup was reduced to three, “Monster,” is only a false illusion of what fans are to hear on this album. The lack of synergy on this album is very unlike the band, and the three “Interlude” songs on this album only serve to dissipate any hope of these songs clinging together. On their own merits, the songs aren’t horrible; if this were a debut album of an upcoming band, they would be promising.
The vocals are catchy, the songs are simple, and give small insights into each genre. But for Paramore, a band that has built itself on an out standing pop/punk/rock style, and had all three of their albums reach gold status (one of them being Riot! which went on to reach platinum status in the US), this album is misleading and unacceptable. This album proves what can happen to a band after losing two main members and having an almost 4-year break in between records.
Although the album mostly rings of disappointment, there are songs that stick out. Their single “Now” showed a catchy intro still in the style of the new found trio. This song could even be connected to the same sound that “Monster” had. The song that ends the album, “Future”, even has the feel of “Misguided Ghosts” and when it breaks out into a full band it ends the album in a fade-out/fade-in which was a very interesting effect that fit well with the song.
With this album leading into Paramore’s new sound and career, fans can only wait and see what is to come next of the band. With a band comprised of only three original members and a record that has redefined their sound for the worse, things are looking cloudy for the band.