Paramore – Brand New Eyes
Record Label: Fueled By Ramen
Release Date: September 29th, 2009
Tennessee pop-rock/pop-punk band Paramore is one of the first bands that I discovered years ago when I got into music; about six years ago, I started freshman year of high school, and right before that, Paramore’s sophomore record Riot came out, and I was really into that album. I’m not too familiar with their first album All We Know Is Falling, because I bought a copy of it on iTunes years ago, but my computer crashed before I could back it up to a CD, so I was S.O.L with that. I have listened to it, but not enough times, sadly. Regardless, I also bought the band’s third album Brand New Eyes on iTunes, and did back it up to a blank CD. Now that the band is releasing a self-titled record on April 9th of this year, I feel as though it’s time to go back into their back catalog. I mentioned that I bought a copy of Brand New Eyes when it was released on iTunes, but for whatever reason, I never really got into this record. I enjoyed it, but it never stuck with me for whatever reason. Coincidentally, I’m going back to this record again, and I’m absolutely in love with it. 2007’s Riot was a wonderful record because it had major crossover appeal; it was very solid pop-rock that had elements of pop-punk. Most people remember that record for the singles “Misery Business” and “Crushcrushcrush.” Both songs really showed the band’s potential for mainstream stardom, and in fact, they’ve certainly gotten to that point over the last six years, since Riot was released. With Riot’s success, frontwoman Hayley Williams was rather skeptical if she would be able to top Riot, and well, she did. This is by far, Paramore’s best record, and it’s also a very natural progression. Everything on this record is stronger than on Riot and All We Know Is Falling put together – the lyrics, the choruses, the instrumentation, and Hayley Williams’ vocals. I feel as though that Paramore’s “sound” was honed in on this record, and the resulting record was exactly the kind of record I’ve wanted from this band from the very beginning. Besides having a rather consistent pop-rock sound, and still having hints of pop-punk, I also sense an indie-rock sound as well, which makes this record extremely interesting to me. The first glimpse that fans got was first single “Ignorance,” and this track is definitely Paramore – clever lyrics, a very catchy chorus, and Hayley Williams’ vocals are fantastic as always. The funniest thing, however, is this is one of the few songs that returns to form. There’s a lot of experimentation and expansion on this record, and that alone makes it very interesting. It’s not too different, but it goes into a much more “mature” direction. Sadly, that word can quickly alienate a fanbase, but Paramore’s maturity is more than welcomed. It also works quite well, too. In a way, the album title really reflects the mood of this record. With that being said, let’s look at this record with brand new eyes, and see what makes the best Paramore record to date, shall we?
The record begins with “Careful,” and this song alone shows Paramore’s progression. Immediately, Hayley Williams’ vocals are top notch, and have definitely improved since the days of Riot. Lyrically, the song doesn’t stray too much from their past material, but it’s quite interesting, nonetheless. The instrumentation is very solid as well, but in the long run, this song isn’t the best. It’s a nice opening track, but not the best song on the record. If anything, this seems to be just a teaser for what’s to come. Next track “Ignorance” was the first single from the record as I mentioned earlier, but this track is one of the highlights of the record, merely because it’s a “return to form,” so to speak. This track is definitely Paramore – it’s a very solid pop-rock track with very bitter and clever lyrics to complement Williams’ vocals. This is a track that fans of Riot and All We Know Is Falling could definitely get into. In fact, the first half of this record is absolutely fantastic. Every song really hits. While the first track “Careful” is a song that really falls to the wayside, other tracks like third track “Playing God” and fourth track “Brick By Boring Brick” are insanely memorable, and are two of my favorite tracks on the record. The former shows their progression and maturity even more, because this song has some of the most interesting lyrics on it. It’s all about the concept of “playing God,” as the title mentions, and this is something I’ve never really seen from Williams. Her lyrics have gotten a lot better this time around, and anything is better than the lyrics on “Misery Business.” Yikes. The song was catchy, but those lyrics were horrendous. Going back to the record, however, the latter track also has really interesting lyrics, too, and a lot of the songs seem to have a bit of a formula to them – very catchy choruses, and extremely tight knit instrumentation from the other musicians. This was the last record to feature brothers Josh and Zac Farro, who were the lead guitarist and drummer. “Brick By Boring Brick” also features a really interesting outro, because it’s just a bunch of “Ba da ba ba da ba ba da’s,” and when it seems like it’s going to turn into something else, it doesn’t. The track directly after that “Turn It Off” is another one of my favorite tracks, actually, because of the same things that I’ve been talking about already. This song has great lyrics, and showcases Hayley’s vocals again. This song really blends together their brand of pop-rock meets pop-punk, too, including their more “mature” sound.
Most people also remember the song “The Only Exception” from this record, which is the first of two acoustic ballads, so to speak, and this one appears halfway into the record, which I really like, because it doesn’t slow the record down, but slows it down enough so you, the listener, can take a break and take in Hayley’s voice more. This track definitely shows off her voice, such as “Turn It Off” and every other track, really. It’s a love song, and it’s easily the sappiest song on here in terms of lyrics. One would think a song like this would be quite cheesy, but it’s not. It’s actually quite powerful. It’s about a person who doesn’t believe in love, but she met someone that’s an exception to that. As the record goes on, the songs are very solid, but aren’t all that memorable, really. Eighth and ninth tracks “Feeling Sorry” and “Looking Up” are great tracks, but don’t really do much for me, to be honest. In the grand scheme of things, they remind me of “Careful,” in the sense that they’re great tracks, but not the best. The last three tracks are quite interesting, honestly; “Where the Lines Overlap” doesn’t do much for me in the instrumental department, but lyrically speaking, this is a very interesting song, because this song seems to acknowledge the band’s fame, and really thanks the fans for it. I get this impression with the chorus that goes, “No one is as lucky as us / We’re not at the end yet / But we already won.” This song also features some chanting in the bridge, which seems to be like a great song to play live for audience participation. Eleventh track “Misguided Ghosts” is the other ballad, and this is a bit different from “The Only Exception,” because it’s a rather somber track. The only complaint I have is that I wish it were the last track, because it definitely would’ve fit. Last track “All I Wanted” is a nice track, too, and it does have that “last song” vibe. I also would have to say this song is the one that really shows Hayley’s versatility as a vocalist. Her voice hits some very high notes during the chorus, and it’s absolutely fantastic. Her voice is absolutely killer, and that’s one reason why people definitely love this band.
Overall, this record is a very natural progression for the band; they’re going into much more “mature” territory, and that’s good. With the first single from their new album “Now,” the band even further experimenting, and that track sounds like nothing I’ve heard from them. So, their new self-titled record is going to be one that could make or break the band, really.