By CARA SMITH
Paramore’s fourth studio album, “Paramore,” is an exciting, diverse album that is a testament to its fresh-faced approach to pop-punk music. The album clearly displays the band’s new experimentation with new musical genres; whether or not this is good, only time will tell.
Since its formation in 2004, Paramore has edged its way into becoming a staple of the pop-punk genre. The band, fronted by singer and songwriter Hayley Williams, has a history of churning out explosively catchy albums that are both angst-inspiring and filled with somewhat melodramatic lyrics, most notably displayed by their 2007 platinum album “Riot!” However, their latest effort does not reflect that fiery punk style that their fans love. Instead, the band channels that energy into redefining itself as something not yet fully developed.
Williams has received heaps of praise over the years for her soaring vocal crescendos and impressive range. While Williams’ voice remains unchanged album to album, the band seems to have played with her vocal style in unusual ways on this album. “Still Into You,” a brawny rock-ballad built on rich power chords, is a track that puts Williams’ sonorous vocals on full display with the central chant: “It’s just a spark, but it’s enough to keep me going.”
However, it is hard to dismiss the tracks that leave fans all too familiar with the fact that the band is undergoing a period of creative experimentation.
On certain tracks, Williams seems to play around with more bass-heavy vocals, a show of them grasping towards something more alternative, shown clearly in “Now” and “Part II.” On this album as a whole, Williams’ vocals deliver somewhat inconsistently, a disappointing and unwarranted change from the band’s previous records.
At least the band’s roots in pop-punk instrumentation have not been abandoned altogether. The album’s single “Now” is a passionately rousing rocker that makes more out of chunky guitar riffs and explosive bursts of percussion than the band has in the past.
Furthermore, when Williams fails to deliver vocally, the instrumentation can still save the song. “Ain’t It Fun,” one of the most diverse tracks on the album, features digitized keys, explosive rhythm guitar and all-too realistic lyrics: “Don’t go cryin’ to your mama, ‘cause you’re alone in the real world.” The song’s refrain and final chorus also features a gospel ensemble echoing Williams’ vocals, an exciting experiment from Paramore.
The entrancing addition of cello and viola, interspersed only by moments of light snare drum, was an unexpected addition to the album heard most notably in “Dreamlike.” Opening with chunky, dazzling guitar riffs, the verses of “Anklebiters” are underlined with explosive distorted chords and screaming rhythm guitar.
“Paramore’s” refreshing diversity is a welcome change from the somewhat formulaic nature of previous albums and is a change that the band should develop further.