Confession: I have not listened to a Paramore record before this one. Obviously, I’ve heard “Ain’t it Fun,” “Still Into You,” and “Misery Business” from the radio and various TikTok trends, but I can’t say I’ve sat down and listened to any of their five previous albums. Their sixth, however, I felt compelled to listen to. Needless to say, I’m glad I did: This is Why is a clear sign that an almost 20-year band is able to not only remind us of their signature sound but transcend it to make something fresh.
Paramore shows their musical chops and diversity throughout. The title track starts with some groovy “Superfly”-esque bass riffs that transition into a Talking Heads-like chorus. Reverb coats the guitars in satin, especially in “Liar.” These currents of alluring guitar riffs have a smoothness that resembles something off of Radiohead’s In Rainbows. The pre-choruses are often moments in which the album almost spins off the rails in the best way, with zany vocal performances or psychedelic synths. The back half of the album, with “Crave” as a perfect example, often starts with sunny major seventh chords that feel like sitting on the beach enjoying a beer with friends. There is a poignant playfulness throughout the album in the vocals and melodies, with lead vocalist Hayley Williams’ fun shouts and talk-singing.
Despite the new sounds, Paramore still shows their punk energy and vibrancy on “The News,” a fun rebellious track that is admittedly a bit on the nose (“Rhetorical, deplorable, historical, and all along, we called it normal.” What a unique take!).
The record also oozes cleverness with its track placement and lyrics. “Big Man Little Dignity,” similar to “Dreams” by Fleetwood Mac, feels like a bath at the end of a long day with a dash of female empowerment. “You First,” a biting song with the lyric “Everyone is a bad guy and there’s no way to know who’s the worst” is ironically placed right after. Many songs start with amazing lyrical hooks; the first line of the album is: “If you have an opinion maybe you should shove it.” “You First” begins with “Living well is not my kind of revenge.” It keeps you engaged and wanting to listen to more.
That is the main flaw with this record: I only wish it were longer. At 36 minutes, it is their shortest record since their debut, which is a bit disappointing given their last album was released almost seven years ago. The record feels like a visit to the candy store when you were 6: you get just a little taste and it’s over much too soon.
Perhaps that is the essence of Paramore itself, a word whose homophone (paramour) means “secret lover.” Their average album length is 43 minutes long, a fleeting length of time akin to a love that should not be spoken of. This record is no exception; it is a vibrant burst of energy, both nostalgic and inventive, that leaves you wanting more.