This is my review of Paramore’s new album, Now. But first, a somewhat spiteful backstory:
When I was still in high school, Paramore was my favorite band. The summer their sophomore album released, I got the chance to see them for the first time at the Warped Tour.
I had been a fan for a couple years, long before Misery Business, the first radio-ready single from Riot was played regularly on MTV, throwing them into the thick of popular culture. (well, popular culture for those pretending their interests were outside of popular culture.)
One of the great things about Warped Tour is the accessibility of the musicians. My festival mates came home every year with signed merchandise, photographs, and memories; but I was too shy, and always came home empty handed.
This year would be different, I thought. I promised myself that if I saw any of the members of Paramore, I would work up the courage and ask them for a picture. My friends did it all the time, so why couldn’t I? You can imagine my nervous horror when I saw Hayley Williams’ iconic orange blonde mullet making its way across the grounds. Not only that, but she was accompanied by all three of her bandmates! Not just one member, but all four!
My friend glanced at me and said, “Let’s do this.”
In retrospect, I suppose having all eight of our group approach them at the same time might have come on a little strong. I’m sure they thought they were being rushed by a mob of ‘parawhores’, the self-chosen nickname of die-hard fans. They were all young, not even old enough to smoke, and still getting used to the byproducts of fame.
Still, I think they could have reacted better than how they did. Hayley completely avoided eye contact and literally ran around us as though she were avoiding cattle-prod bearing maniacs, and ran into a restricted ‘crew-only’ area. The bassist and drummer walked by us as though we weren’t even there.
Josh, the guitarist, at least spoke to us. “Uh,” he said, pointing to the barrier Hayley was hiding behind, “we’re going in there.” And he walked away.
Something died in me that day. I still listened to their music, but guiltily. The others in my group began hating them altogether, and I would agree with their comments, and then buy a ticket to one of their concerts a week later.
I wrote all that so that I can tell you this: after listening to Now, I realized that I no longer have to feel guilty about liking Paramore, because their new music has completely lost the magic that made their first few cds so enjoyable for me. Let me explain why:
Now has convinced me that Josh Farro, who left the band after their last cd came out, wrote most of the band’s lyrics. They lack all the finesse and poetry evident in earlier Paramore music. Most of them are very spiteful, obviously about Josh and Zac Farro, and how the band ‘made it through’ without them. The rest are overtly mushy-gushy declarations of how amazing her love is with Chad Ball, her longtime boyfriend. When they first started dating, the general consensus was that it wouldn’t last, blah-blah-blah, and the subtext of every song shouts desperately, “See?!??! You were totally wrong!! We are totes meant for eachother!!” Personally, I feel like she’s trying too hard.
I also get the impression that Paramore is simultaneously trying to break away from their pop-rock roots, and trying to be as radio-friendly as possible. They fail on both accounts. The most catchy songs are Now, the first single, and Fast in my Car, Both of which do get stuck in my head, but in an annoying way. I just find the second single, Still Into You to be totally annoying (see item above about mushy gushy love references), especially when accompanied by the music video, which is just a giant, silly clusterfuck.
There are a couple of bright spots. Well, kinda bright spots. Part II, a continuation of Let the Flames Begin from Riot!, brings back a tiny amount of the passion I adored so much from their previous albums. It’s not as good, but it’s there, and if I had to pick a favorite song, this would be it.
Also, the last song on the cd, Future, seems like it might grow on me. I’m not saying I like it now, but, maybe someday?
Besides those five songs, the rest of this 19-track album just fade together. If it hadn’t been for my history with the band, I don’t think I would have listened to it at all. For this review, I borrowed the cd from a friend, and I’m pretty glad I didn’t buy it myself. I’d give this album 2 out of 5 stars. You might like it, but if you’re a fan of their previous work, borrow it from a friend or give it a listen on Youtube first before throwing down fifteen bucks. Just saying.
You might think this is a vindictive post, revenge for a 5-year-old snub, and you might be right. But, if it hadn’t been so bad, I’d still be guiltily listening and not saying anything…. So there!