Last year I had the enormous luck of seeing Paramore live in Corona Capital (Mexico City’s biggest music festival). This, along with some of the other concerts at the festival, was one of the first concerts I ever went to. Before this festival, I had only assisted in another live performance, and let’s just say it wasn’t a representative experience of what people think about when they say live performance. The reason I had been present in so few concerts in my life was that by the time I started developing an interest in going to this kind of event was around December 2019. In fact, by that date I had already bought tickets for what would be my second live performance, unfortunately, it was canceled so it took place three days after Mexico went into full quarantine.
So you can see why the performances at this festival were such a huge deal for me, and in a sea of wild expectations the Paramore concert was one of the best of the whole weekend, and the song that opened the performance was: “This is Why” (by then a newly released single).
I had listened to the song a couple of times before and liked it a lot, but the moment I listened to it live is the moment I knew this album was going to be something special. I’m glad to say that today I know that feeling was right.
I tell you this personal background not because I wanted to vent, but because if someone were to ask me what recent album better represented what is like to live through a worldwide pandemic (that is still going), a political crisis, and an environmental crisis I would probably direct you to this album.
With lyrics like “This is why I don’t leave the house/ You say the coast is clear/ But you won’t catch me out/ Oh, why? This is why” it’s hard not to draw a parallel between the song and the time we all quite literally didn’t leave the house. The opening and titular song sets the mood of uncertainty and desperation that accompanies the rest of the album. The second song of the album (my personal favorite), “The News,” just makes these feelings a lot stronger, and together these two introduce an emotional journey.
Some of the next songs like “Running out of time,” “C’est Comme Ça,” “Figure 8,” “Crave,” and “Thick Skull” bring the chaos of the world as seen in the first two songs into a more personal scale, exploring internal struggles like being overwhelmed by social life, don’t know how to draw limits for yourself, and about the way sometimes we escape reality through impossible expectations. These songs are simultaneously heavy with emotions that feel like the chains that keep us grounded, while also feeling incredibly freeing in the way they can reflect our anxieties and frustrations, creating incredible paradoxes that will keep you singing.
On the other hand, songs like “Big Man,” “Little Dignity,” “You First,” and “Liar” are heavier than freeing, touching on the themes more associated with the way we relate with others, especially in the times this relationship ends up being hurtful. While some other songs in this album feel like angry screams, and even at times call to action, this group of songs feels more like resignation, a moment of surrender. They are sad and consuming, and this is why they are so good.
As a whole, the album feels different from the other band’s albums, while never feeling like it is not a Paramore album. I think the best way to describe the musical feeling to past Paramore fans is that this album is a combination in style of After Laughter and Brand New Eyes (with a bit of RIOT! for good measure). Each song feels different from each, but it still feels like a cohesive album.
While I couldn’t say this is my favorite Paramore album, it’s undeniable that this is a worthy return for the famous pop-punk band, giving us something that represents the feeling of our times. While I think times like this benefit from art that lifts us and gives us hope, I think people often forget we also need things that match the way we feel (no matter how frustrated and hopeless we feel) and give us a cathartic experience, giving us a way to processes these emotions. I feel that This is Why by Paramore is just that.
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