Review: Paramore – This Is Why

What do you do when the world around you gets a little strange? Paramore seem to embrace the weird on This Is Why, their quirky sixth studio album that largely relies on post-punk chord progressions, Bloc Party influences worn proudly on their sleeves, all mixed in a blender on the highest speed to see what concoction comes out in the end. In the interviews leading up to the release of this record, the band seemed to be getting more comfortable in their collective skin. They mentioned that the songs they were crafting for the follow up to After Laughter were more “guitar-driven” and the band found themselves “listening to a lot of older music” that inspired them to make a career in music in the first place. Whereas After Laughter was originally seen as fairly dramatic departure from the punk-tinged sound the band had cut their teeth to early on, the same could easily be said about this next dramatic leap of faith on This Is Why. Paramore has always been a band that has challenged the artistic norms of what is expected of them, and have grown accustomed to their audience wanting a certain “version” of themselves. In what may be their most polarizing record to date, Paramore continue to push the envelope of creativity in dramatic ways, and find their band going through yet another reinvention. The metamorphosis of this trio may just be complete.

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The band wrote the album’s closing track, “Thick Skull,” a marked sonic departure from After Laughter, on day one. “It had these shades of a few different eras of us being music fans, loving heavy, drone-y, almost shoegaze-y moments,” says Williams, also citing York’s clashing guitar patterns, Farro’s thunderous bursts of drumming and even her own rare piano playing on the song. “I was like, ‘Man, this sounds like a band I would love.’ ”


“We don’t want to be a nostalgia band,” Williams says today, reflecting on that speech. “But I think what I felt was a mixture of vindication and also a lot of anger. I was really surprised that I had so much anger well up in me because I was like, ‘Wait a minute. They’re treating us like a prize now,’ but like, Fat Mike [of NOFX] used to tell people that I gave good rim jobs onstage when I was 19 years old. I do not think that that’s punk. I don’t think that’s the essence of punk. And I feel strongly that without young women, people of color and also the queer community, I just think we would still be where we were then.

“It felt like justification to be able to have the mic and to be one of the last bands that played,” she continues. “We hung out with My Chem a few minutes before we went on [on] the last weekend, and I think they feel very similarly about how they were received. And what it comes down to is that the fans are the ones with the power because otherwise, us and My Chem wouldn’t have been headlining that thing. And I think that’s beautiful.”