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In our first chapter of retrospective reviews, we reflect on Paramore’s third studio album.
Published: 04/01/2020  Author: Eleanor Osada 
 Photos: Ryan Russell
Brand New Eyes was my first, formal introduction to Paramore. A couple of girls in my Year 8 ICT class used to play their songs on an iPod Touch (remember those?), and an overwhelming curiosity drove me to YouTube as soon as I got home from school one day. I want to say Brick By Boring Brick was the first song I heard, and honestly, I’d heard nothing else like it. I grew up listening to soft rock, at best, so was accustomed to drums, guitars, bass and a good melody - but Paramore were a blinding, sudden exposure to how exciting music could be.

I went to HMV the following weekend and bought the album, relying completely on how good the singles were (at that point, just Brick By Boring Brick and Ignorance). I loaded the CD into my iTunes — yes, I sound prehistoric — and kickstarted the ride that is Brand New Eyes with Careful’s slow rise of feedback, bursting into this beautifully, tightly composed wall of noise… Front to back, I can still feel that album in every fibre of me. It made a home in me that day.

Both Paramore’s debut and sophomore are brilliant albums, but Brand New Eyes captures a stark human vulnerability that Riot doesn’t, and All We Know Is Falling does only in its naive infancy. Not that either predecessor fails to be emotive, but Brand New Eyes is unique in the way it unleashes its wild torrent of complicated feelings - tension, bitterness, losing grip, and the struggle with the self. I believe that BNE was borne out of pain, and written in the midst of experience, as unfortunately some of the most timeless music is (see: Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours - paralleling the internal friction, but minus the coke binge). What the band dubbed as “internal issues” at the point of release now seems to be more… Damage control word salad in hindsight. It was so much more than that, and the release of this loud, angst-ridden masterpiece - a voice for the victims, and a time in which Hayley describes as feeling “so alone in that fight”1 - empowered the lonely, guided the lost and lifted the velvet curtain to reveal a truth.

Brand New Eyes is often upheld as Paramore’s best, and I concur. The album continues to translate with new fans, young teenage listeners - much like me, aged 12, who adored the sounds of the record, but could barely relate to the lyrics yet - and is still a crutch for those in their mid-twenties and beyond, who have realised the gravity of the stories told between the gatefold, and apply its teachings in our lives, even 10 years on. Whilst some music can be topical and have, almost, an expiration date - Brand New Eyes is imperishable. In terms of Paramore’s input in the 10 years since, I consider After Laughter to be closest in its intimacy, and its unashamed efforts to ‘bare all’. Whilst BNE laid the foundation for total honesty between the band and its listeners, AL’s unwavering fragility differs from the rage that soaks through the BNE tracklist. BNE carries a stubborn front, an insistence that a fight is being fought. Whereas AL bares resemblance to a shrug, in places. A resignation, an acceptance. They’re older and wiser, and — much differently — at peace with each other. After Laughter, whilst raw and cutting at the best of times, maintains the value of a good friendship, and almost breathes a sigh of relief at having grown and matured in such a way that these bonds can endure. The most human factor that ties the two releases together is pain and hurt, and as Hayley writes in an anniversary love letter to After Laughter, she regards it as “the pain that’s practically promised to all of us [but has] not beaten me”2. 10 years on from such a similarly open wound as Brand New Eyes, Paramore prove that there is healing in the journey, and equally - sincerity in pain.



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