Review Summary: Paramore picks up where they left off combining elements of pop punk and alternative rock. The addition of danceable grooves, ballads and chanting vocals further enhances their depth helping shape Riot! into a pleasingly fun and addictively catchy ride.
Having your debut album labeled as a great success is always so bittersweet. Of course the initial of sweetness of a constantly growing fan base, touring, and seeing and playing new corners of the world must be a blast, that along with as the feeling of ‘making it.’ However, after that comes the real fun, the follow up record. There is the pressure, the anticipation, and of course the hype built up by various sources. Then there is the debate about whether to push for a more media friendly record or experiment with a new sound. More times then not a sophomore record is a part two of the debut with some new touches, progression and improvement. This is at least the case for the recently hailed female fronted pop punk act Paramore as Riot!
expands on the group’s catchy pop punk and alternative sound. By incorporating some new dance-worthy grooves, chain vocals, and ballads atop of the group’s already solid pop laced sound, Riot!
is far from a sophomore slump as it is Paramore’s best work to date.
Things open in a fairly standard pop punk form with “For A Pessimist, I'm Pretty Optimistic”
. It is fast, relatively simple, and of course catchy. Then again, a different start to the record would be odd to say the least. Right away the improvement production wise is noticed as Hayley’s vocals sound so much smoother is the mix. The opening track is certainly a vocally driven one and with good reason as Hayley reveals a tremendous range. Their danceable tactics come out relatively early in the record. Despite starting off in typical form, That’s What You Get”
features a wonderfully catchy chorus with a perfectly played melody line guaranteed to get your hips shakin’. A fitting and tight high-hat snare shuffle during the chorus makes thing soar. However, the chain vocal bridge does not go unnoticed as it marks the second new feature of the song. To top off the opening section of the record is the first single “Misery Business”
. It stands out as a consistently tempo and dominantly upbeat and edgy track with an expectedly explosive chorus. Chord progressions are superbly done as is the clean bridge. Despite adding minimal new traits to their core sound, the opening portion of the record is quite enjoyable.
The second half of the record shows the group taking this in a slightly different light. “Let The Flames Begin”
opens with a very smoothing melody and continues its initial pace into the verse. Hayley’s lyrical writing is quite strong,“A memory remains just a tiny spark/I give it all my oxygen/So let the flames begin.”
About a minute in the first chorus comes out and things just launch to new heights. Hayley’s explosive vocals are delivered wonderfully and are backed up with a remarkably effective lead riff. The different moods of the song really accent her superb vocal style, depth, and range and despite her impressive performance, the rest band never completely takes the back seat. In the next track “Miracle!”
guitars certainly get their work heard starting things out with relatively straightforward yet energetic high pitched riff. Things seem very chorus centered as certain other sections of the song can drag on. However, the chorus and the prevalent guitar work makes this well worth a listen along with the back up ohh’s over the last chorus. Its generally catchy and fun sound keeps the middle of the record smooth sailing.
The final few tracks of the record come off as some of the most emotional yet. A new sound from the band is revealed during “We Are Broken”
. It is the slowest and softest track on the record using piano and mainly clean guitars. Right from the get go the song sucks in listeners as its emotional power is darn near inescapable. Hayley really makes this one work by using a moderately large range and keeping her melodies fluently flowing. Some slightly distorted distant guitar leads are a nice touch as are the timely drum fills by the youngest member of the band on drums. “We Are Broken”
ends up as a wonderful and touching ballad marking a successful use of a new sound for the group. However, the record does certainly not end of a light note. “Born For This”
features a chain vocal section on every other measure during parts of the first verse. Hayley’s lyrics and delivery certainly hint at some urgency especially during the chorus “Everybody sing like it’s the last song you will ever sing/Tell me, tell me, do you feel the pressure now"/Everybody live like it’s the last day you will ever see/ Tell me, tell me, do you feel the pressure now"”
. The blend of riffs and progressions is excellent throughout the song as are the bass accents. Things end with an extended chorus after a chanting bridge. As Hayley slightly modifies the melody the urgency is felt in full effect, showing that Paramore are indeed a force to be reckoned with.
There is not doubt Paramore was onto something stellar with their debut record All We Know Is Falling. However, their natural improvement and miniature additions shown on Riot!
will show that Paramore has reached the heights their potential showed them capable of. While some will complain about the lack of progression present but there are enough subtle shifts to keep the majority. Regardless of that, the quality of the entire record should be more then enough to keep the grumblers quiet. At a young age Paramore has already done so much, and Riot!
should only further stretch their achievements. While Hayley is obviously the name this band is known for, no member is really left out. Everything just seems to work as powerful vocals combine with always appropriate guitar work and solid rhythms to craft a fluent flowing, fun, interesting, and catchy record. Despite not reinventing the wheel, this will almost certainly end up as a top three record in its genre for the year and will only enhance Paramore’s success.
Final Rating: 4/5