It’s been a trying few years for Franklin natives Paramore. In late 2009, the band released their most mature and critically well-received record to date, Brand New Eyes. The record subsequently went gold, and spawned five singles for the band, yet came with the cost of internal turmoil behind the scenes. One year later, founding members and brothers Josh (guitar) and Zac (drums) Farro abruptly quit the band. Though their future initially seemed uncertain, remaining members Hayley Williams (vocals), Jeremy Davis (bass), and Taylor York (guitar) resolved to continue on as Paramore, and have remained a trio. The group has continued to tour intermittently, mostly overseas, with fill-in musicians (notably drummer Josh Freese), but have largely been laying low for the past two years. In mid-2012, Paramore entered the studio with drummer Ilan Rubin (Nine Inch Nails, Lostprophets, Angels & Airwaves) and, for the first time, worked with producer Justin Meldal-Johnsen (Beck, Nine Inch Nails, The Mars Volta).
The result, a self-titled album, is slated for release April 9 through Fueled by Ramen. Paramore have historically been one of the few “scene” bands who exclusively and solely write most all of their own material. Since Josh Farro and Williams handled the bulk of the writing duties, Paramore marks the first time guitarist Taylor York (the last member to officially join the band) has been tasked with the majority of the co-writing alongside Williams. The album has been revealed to contain a whopping 17 tracks (with a 19 track deluxe version) and a new song, “Now,” was officially released today. “Now” has not been specifically called a single, and since it marks a shift in sound for the group, its release is likely to serve as more of a teaser than a grab for radio play. With nearly three months to go before Paramore‘s release, I’d expect another, more marketable, single in the interim. You can hear “Now” below.
The track is likely to polarize fans. It’s both heavier than what most Paramore fans have come to expect, with an energy and intensity that is channeled in a more subdued and focused, and less punk rock, manner than on previous releases. It’s catchy, yet artistically sound- landing somewhere between an early period Yeah Yeah Yeahs song and a more agressive Alt-J. The production is slick, Williams’ vocals sound better than they ever have, and the instrumentation is more layered and intense than ever before. It’s a strong song and a promising evolution forward for the group, yet, on some level, it lacks a bit of the spark and inspiration that defined past releases. It’s certainly not a misstep, and likely not even close to the best Paramore has to offer, but it doesn’t quite satisfy what I had hoped for with a band reinvigorated and after a 4 year wait. My hopes for the album are still very high, because I know what Paramore are capable of at their best, and I fully expect “Now” to continue to grow on me. One thing’s for sure: Paramore are no longer a pop punk band (they haven’t been for years) and they’ve certainly got the chops to become something much, much greater.
Check out the cover art and track-listing for ‘Paramore’ below:
1. Fast In My Car
3. Grow Up
5. interlude: Moving On
6. Ain’t It Fun
7. Part II
8. Last Hope
9. Still Into You
11. interlude: Holiday
13. Hate To See Your Heart Break
14. (One Of Those) Crazy Girls
15. interlude: I’m Not Angry Anymore
16. Be Alone