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With great anger comes great power - but this party is a ‘bring your own responsibility’ affair.
Published: 15/02/2023  Photo: Zachary Gray
 Author: Sam Nichol

‘This Is Why’ is both a story book and a careful calculation; of whether an implosion or an explosion will do more harm to those around you, and the emotional cost of instilled hyper-awareness of your own shortcomings. And it’s exactly what I needed.

I think Hayley Williams has been listening in on my therapy sessions. That is, the ones that I have inside my own head. Much like the themes that are not so much alluded to, but nailed to the wall with painful levels of self-awareness on Running Out Of Time, I haven’t actually gotten round to organising them yet.

Four years of consuming the desperately needed but often poisonous dose of real life offered to Williams, York and Farro has allowed the trio to peel back the dreaded curtain of self-awareness, and - just as we all feared - they don’t often like what they see. Williams knows that being an empath filled with righteous rage will never come without a cost, both to yourself and those around you.

Where 2017’s ‘After Laughter’ saw cause for crying hard and dancing harder, ‘This Is Why’ sets the stage for some uncomfortable shuffling. Central to the album, amongst the themes of decaying away in real time inside your own home and finding the strength to cope with the world’s daily dose of shit, is the realisation that allowing yourself to live the life of a self-proclaimed “good person” means playing a precarious game of Jenga between living well, being kind and calling out the bastards that cause misery to others, and that you’re not an external factor in the equation.

Two decades of experience in a cutthroat industry has allowed Paramore to nail the art of using the tools at their disposal as weapons, and boy, can it hurt. The band’s 6th LP sees a masterful mixture of cathartic screaming and calculated restraint in Williams’ vocal lines for maximum emotional impact. Soaring high above the often-times blissful soundscapes created by York and Farro, Williams croons poignantly about the double-edged sword of romanticising life for all of it’s highs and lows in Crave, while the seething You First sees her sitting broodily behind the shield of the mix while pushing us bastards off the cliff that we so rightfully deserve.

The band’s 6th album sees an end to their contractual obligations; signed into history almost 20 years ago. With that knowledge, the agoraphobic themes that seep into the storytelling of This is Why could easy tell the story of a band with an already difficult history with the spotlight that are willing to hang up their boots for good.

Far from it, this feels like a liberation. Boundaries set, lessons learned and grievances aired, the stage is set for Paramore to finally have their well-earned crack at world domination. That’s a world I want to live in.

This Is Why was released on February 10th on Atlantic Records.