Review Summary: Somebody call the Farro brothers.
As I write this, a flood of tears are streaming down my face while I ponder the tragedy that has befallen Paramore and the perils that lay ahead in their post-Farro world. I grab a handkerchief from my drawer and proceed to gingerly wipe the tears off my face while avoiding pulling out earphone cables from either ear. I stare at the piece of cloth in my hands. They're soaked. And by soaked, I mean dripping wet. My tears pool up and form a puddle.
I wake up to the last section of “Future” as it brings Paramore's latest album to a close. “Looks like I passed out at the height of my bawl fest last night”, I think to myself. I fire up my laptop and find these words typed into the word processor:
Paramore, ironically self-titles their fourth studio effort right after parting ways with two of their founding, and I dare say, most important members; excluding Haley, of course. It's been said that you should highlight and be proud of your insecurities, but this shouldn't be the case when you've just lost your main songwriter and a drummer who's basically laid the foundation of what fans now know as “The Paramore sound”. Unfortunately, you won't be hearing that signature sound on this record at all.
Gone are the familiar and rousing lead guitar lines that are as equally effective in getting a song stuck in your head as Haley's catchy vocal melodies. Say goodbye as well to the tasteful and riveting drum fills that you've grown to love in their previous releases. Instead, the listener is left with seventeen songs worth of b-side material - majority of which are poorly written, demo-quality tracks that shouldn't have been allowed to see the light of day.
Although I find that most of the album is more miss than hit, it is worth mentioning that the absence of the signature drum and guitar driven sound of Paramore's past releases has paved the way to a fresh indie-pop RnB sound that I think the band should explore more in future endeavors. This is properly showcased on a few songs on the record.
Ain't It Fun, my personal favorite and probably the first funky and danceable song from the band (especially the prechorus section), and Still Into You (the verse being the only good thing in this song for it's lighthearted poppiness) are a few gems that, with a little more polishing and fleshing out, could've had a lot more glimmer, thus improving the record as a whole. Other songs worth listening to are “Now”, for it's very catchy intro which also acts as a theme throughout the entire song, and “(One of Those) Crazy Girls” - a song that displays the prettiest chords and melodies ever used in a Paramore song.
In spite of these very enjoyable moments, there's still just too little to like about Paramore. To start, this album sadly seems to have taken a hit even at the production stage. There are instances where Hayley's vocals get distorted when she belts. This really cheapens the listening experience and feels unfitting for a recording of a band of this caliber.
What truly makes Paramore a disappointing record though, is that despite Haley's vocals vastly improving, especially when it comes to versatility: Almost none of these songs are able to provide the excellent musical backdrop for Haley's vocals, upon which they able to freely rest, able to shine at their fullest.
Unlike classic Paramore fare, walls of guitar and pulsating drums are replaced by a tapestry of synths, xylophone and/or glockenspiel furnishings peppered throughout the record. These provide an interesting new soundscape for long time fans, but they don't do a good job at masking the weak choruses, ineffective hooks, and poor writing this record suffers from.
Imagine eating the most delicious, mouthwatering pizza in the world, and then discovering that the crust is actually rotten. You realize this too late; and the ingredients of the pizza slice: rotten crust and all, are swirling inside your mouth; satiating your taste buds with an amalgam of flavors. Part delectable but mostly putrid, this inappropriate assault on the senses makes you sad. This record makes me sad. Paramore has got to get their ish together and call the Farro brothers.
A few days later: I'm starting to like Grow Up and Anklebiters, but not enough to bump my rating up.