This is easily one of the more talked about & one of the most polarizing albums of 2013 so far, and not without good reason. Between 2/5 bandThis is easily one of the more talked about & one of the most polarizing albums of 2013 so far, and not without good reason. Between 2/5 band members leaving, this being their first album in 4 years & more importantly showing a significant change in sound, division among fan reception would be inevitable. Fortunately what we’ve gotten is their most ambitious, mature & diverse album to date, and in my opinion their best, even above Riot!. At 17 tracks and 63 minutes long (19 tracks & 70 minutes if you include the bonus tracks) it’s quite easy to make an album of such length feel bogged down or redundant. But Paramore manages to engage the listener throughout the whole length, mainly because of the aforementioned diversity. The band zig-zags from one sound or style or feeling to another between tracks in a way that makes every track notable to some degree, and there’s no sign of filler to be found. One interesting recurring element here is a trio of interludes that appear at different points throughout. Basically they’re 1-minute pseudo-lo-fi acoustic songs that couldn’t have been stretched to a more “full” length. This was a good move, as restricting them to the standard pop structure might’ve bogged them down a bit. Unquestionably the most controversial song here is the most recent single “Still into You”, which people are accusing of being too poppy, and even the ever-overused term “sellout” has been thrown around. And to those claiming this is “meant for the Katy Perry crap tween girl audience” or whatever I have to ask... are you listening to these lyrics? They very clearly detail a long-term & mature relationship. Not exactly “Hey I just met you & this is crazy”. Heck, if anything this is a song for old people. But with that defensiveness out of the way, this is a great song. It’s an unabashedly bubblegummy power-pop tune with a nice guitar riff, infectious melodies & the aforementioned sweet & sincere message. This album in general seems to center lyrically on moving forward, looking to the future rather than hanging onto the past (like certain “fans” should do...), and being happy in your current situation. They’re not exactly angsty teenagers anymore. And they even at times come off very self-aware of how alienating these changes can be to a closed-minded fanbase, especially in tracks like “Grow Up”, “Anklebiters” & “Future”, where in the former the general message is summed up in the titular line “Some up of have to grow up sometimes If I have to I’m gonna leave you behind” as well as pretty much every line in the first verse. It displays the honest frustration an evolving musician experiences when people whine about them not being exactly the same as they were 7 years ago. But at the same time they manage to appreciate the past at times, like in “Part II” which is a pretty clear sequel to “Let the Flames Begin” from Riot!, and in my opinion surpasses it in quality. The 8-minute monster of a closing track (on the standard edition) Future is easily my favorite track here. The first couple minutes are fairly simple & intimate, comprising of an acoustic guitar, harmonica & Hayley singing about the titular & aforementioned themes of not living in the past. But then slowly but surely it builds into the last 5 minutes, a fantastic instrumental that rides a slow & heavy (for Paramore) groove driven by pounding drums, deep basslines & huge wailing guitar leads. As for other notable tracks, there’s the soft & sensitive ballad “Hate to See Your Heart Break”, the goofy & kinda funny “(One of Those) Crazy Girls”, the keyboard & gospel-tinged “Ain’t It Fun” & those looking for “classic” Paramore can find that in bonus tracks “Native Tongue” & “Escape Route”, which the band said they purposefully left off because it didn’t fit with the stylistic growth of the rest of the album. Overall I was pretty much blown away by this album. It’s a fantastic comeback that shows the band at their most creative & uncompromising.
Top 5 tracks: Future, Still into You, Grow Up, Ain’t It Fun, Now
Score: 94/100… Expand