Review: With ‘This Is Why,’ Paramore continues to exceed expectations  

Paramore’s long-awaited sixth album reminds us that the pop-punk band is here to stay.


Aaliya Luthra

Paramore’s newest album features ten tracks including “Thick Skull” and “C’est Comme Ça”. (Illustration by Aaliya Luthra)

Julia Diorio, Contributing Writer

My first interaction with Paramore was in elementary school. My older cousin was obsessed with the music group and I was obsessed with my older cousin, so Paramore became the coolest band to me. She downloaded “Still Into You” onto my iPod Touch — where it accompanied the “High School Musical 2” soundtrack — and called it “real music.”

Paramore has released six albums over the last 18 years, most recently “This Is Why” on Feb. 10. Composed of lead singer Hayley Williams, guitarist Taylor York and drummer Zac Farro, Paramore is one of the only bands from the 2000s emo scene left standing. Its newest album speaks to the band’s musical prowess, retroactively justifying Paramore’s five-year hiatus.

“This Is Why” has 10 songs, and was released five years after Paramore’s last album, “After Laughter.” In an interview with Pitchfork, Williams said the new record “summarizes the plethora of ridiculous emotions, the rollercoaster of being alive in 2022, having survived even just the last three or four years.” The rage and raw emotion that one experiences as a result of living through this time period is evident in the lyrics of the title track, which speaks to the isolation of quarantine and the chaotic nature of the pandemic.

Throughout the album, Paramore stays close to its rock and punk roots, with a heavy drum beat and big guitar riffs. Williams told Rolling Stone that there were two main goals for the production of the album: “We’re still in the thick of it but some things have remained consistent from the start. 1) More emphasis back on the guitar, and 2) Zac should go as Animal as he wants with drum takes.” The band’s signature animalistic sound has not changed, and perhaps that’s why fans have stayed loyal, even after a five-year drought.

Williams’ vocals stun on each of the tracks. Her range is consistently unparalleled, and the passion she brings to her music has always made Paramore stand out. On “You First,” the verses and pre-chorus are quiet and subdued, while the chorus itself is chaotic and upbeat. The amount of control she holds over her voice throughout the album is admirable, especially considering the level of emotion she communicates.

As much as this album continues the band’s previous patterns, the lyrics indicate just how much time has passed since Paramore’s arrival on the music scene. Williams’ lyrics no longer focus on vengeful ex-girlfriends — instead, they delve into the paranoid anxieties of becoming an adult during times of social unrest and political turmoil, as seen on “C’est Comme Ça,” “Thick Skull” and “You First.” For example, “Thick Skull” offers the lyrics, “Thick skull never did / Nothing for me / Same lesson again? / Come on, give it to me, give it to me.” Other tracks are clearly attempts to mirror inspirations like artist Florence Shaw of the band Dry Cleaning that unfortunately fall flat. The nonsense syllables within “C’est Comme Ça” could be related to the pushback on “Misery Business,” one of Paramore’s most popular songs, which has received hate for years due to its allegedly anti-feminist rhetoric. Perhaps Williams is apprehensive about making a mistake with her lyrics again.

The album itself is a combination of Paramore’s narrative storytelling prowess and unique musicality as a band. The flow of “This is Why” helps smooth the transition into a pop-punk music scene. The first half of the album is about the band finding its footing within this uncharted territory, and the second half is where it really shines. Williams has just the right amount of elegance in her vocals, and Farro and York make beats that seem out of place at first, but eventually mesh together. The act of abandoning its previous hot and heavy sound for something a little different was bold. Ultimately, Paramore has survived for 18 years because the band is good at what it does.

Angsty guitar riffs, hard drum beats and unreal throaty vocals establish a unique sound of rock mixed with pop-punk. “This Is Why” ultimately still resembles the band’s past work, because Paramore knows what its fans want. This dedicated loyalty the band’s own appreciation for the craft is evident through the continued popularity of the band’s music — “All I Wanted” went viral on TikTok years after its release, and “Hard Times” is on every pool party playlist. 

One can only hope that we won’t have to wait another five years for the next album, but if that’s what Paramore needs to live up to its legacy, so be it.

Contact Julia Diorio at [email protected].