Review Summary: This is some fucking foolishness right here.
What is it about Paramore that makes music critics forget how to write? In the Rolling Stone
review for this album, the terms “emo-metal,” “post-emo,” and “pop-metal” are all used, and the entire review is only three sentences long. One could – and maybe should – argue that nobody at Rolling Stone
knows how to write about music anymore, but even they are rarely that
far off-base. But they’re not the only ones to do so. A few years ago, the Los Angeles Times
single “That’s What You Get” as having some “screwy off-time math-core” in it.
Anyway, it doesn’t matter. Things like that used to bother me because I thought Paramore was a good band and it seemed stupid that people found it hard to pinpoint what they were. But listening to their self-titled album has lent that difficulty some credibility after the fact, because this shi
t is all over the place.
Still, if you didn’t like Paramore before, then maybe there’s something here for you. Want to hear them sound how Taylor Swift does when she tries to write a rock song? Listen to “Fast In My Car” which is seriously just awful. Sort of a lyrical mash-up of Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car” and Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Want To Have Fun” in that it removes the desperation from the former and adds the vapid bullshi
t of the latter, it stands out because it features one of the most annoying pre-choruses ever and
one of the worst bridges I’ve ever heard. Want to hear them try their hand at mixing punky buzz-saw guitar verses with an "epic" stadium rock chorus? Lead single “Now” is here for you, in which Hayley Williams gives the first of several poor singing performances on the record; the verses are toneless and she tries to cram too many words into them without really saying anything.
Really though, this album seems especially poor because it makes the departed Farro brothers seem justified in their pissy leaving. Yeah, maybe they left because Hayley was getting all the media attention. Maybe it really was because they thought the band was headed in a direction that didn’t glorify Jesus or whatever. But now I can’t help imagining that Hayley presented them with a demo of “Ain’t It Fun” and they got the fu
ck out of there as fast as they could. If the “we just want to have fun!” version of Paramore doesn’t do it for you, and the Muse-ish “Now” sounds a bit too try-hard, then there’s always the Gospel Paramore of “Ain’t It Fun.” Seriously, there is a full-on gospel breakdown that takes up the entire second half of this five-minute song. It would be cheesy even if they weren’t singing something as ridiculous as “Don’t go cryin’ to yo’ mama, ‘cuz yo’ on yo’ own in the real world.” But that is indeed what they’re saying, and I don’t want to talk about that song anymore.
And after that, there are still eleven songs to go. Previous Paramore albums were sometimes instrumentally bland and overwrought lyrically, but they could always fall back on Hayley’s voice to carry them through the rougher patches. However, not even she can save songs like “Anklebiters” and “(One Of Those) Crazy Girls,” which are blatant examples of filler that should have been cut before they were even demoed. There's also the closer "Future," which features five or so minutes of the most boring post-rock song you've ever heard. I guess the sad conclusion here is that Paramore needs Josh Farro, who maybe could have tempered all of the crazy fu
cking songwriting decisions that were made on Paramore
. And then we could have all gone back to happily misdiagnosing them as metal-pop or emo-thrash or whatever
, as long as it sounded good.