Paramore’s This Is Why: The angst still resonates

By Gus Nations IV, Staff Writer

Watching beloved 2010-ish pop groups implode violently isn’t so much a source of entertainment for me as it is a marker of elapsed time. 

It feels like there’s a new supernova every week: “Trending: Robin Thicke Sued,” or “Maroon 5’s Adam Levine Caught Messaging Model.” It’s difficult for groups to hang onto what made them huge in the first place when the pop music atmosphere is changing so rapidly. 

Now when I listen to a new song by an artist I don’t know or hear a song I’ve never heard, it doesn’t feel relatable anymore — I just feel old.

But one band that’s remained conspicuously relevant since they exploded onto the scene is Paramore. Though they haven’t been as active musically — just one release since 2010’s smash hit, Paramore — they’ve managed to avoid dissolving into obscurity. This is partially because they made amazing music early in their career and partially because of a curious 2020 lawsuit involving teen pop sensation Olivia Rodrigo. Rodrigo was forced to pay Paramore frontwoman, Hayley Williams, millions after being sued for songwriting royalties over “good 4 you.”

The lawsuit was divisive; for some fans, it was a classic instance of the badgered old artist swooping down to collect on the success of young talent. For others, it represented the veteran calling the youth out for their plagiarism. The argument basically turned into a “You just don’t understand me” fight.

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Paramore’s new album, This Is Why, puts this debate to rest. The project is a solid claim that angst and deft songwriting aren’t attributes owned exclusively by the new generation of artists — that emotion isn’t experienced only by young people.

This Is Why picks up on the familiar Paramore thread of packaging anger and frustration in fun, colorful wrapping paper. On most of the songs, Hayley Williams is grappling with very specific and real issues, but the songs are just so fun that it’s easy to forget what she’s talking about.

“Running Out of Time” describes how little time there is during the day and how easy it is to use that as an excuse for neglecting people we care about: “There was traffic, spilled my coffee, crashed my car, otherwise/Woulda been there on time/Shoulda, coulda, woulda, wouldn’t matter, ultimate alibi.” 

Raise your hand if you’ve used any of those excuses in the last week (I’m raising my hand.) The guitar is harsh but upbeat, almost trying to push the thought out of my mind.

On “Crave,” Williams talks about the cyclical nature of romance: “You say, ‘live in the present’/I’m already dreaming of how it begins/And trying to savor the moment/but I know the feeling will come to an end, so I crave, crave to do it all over again.” 

It’s nice to know that even pop stars have frustrating relationships. William’s voice is aching but hopeful.

The album is loud. There are points that it felt like the band was screaming. Coming from other groups, this might’ve felt grating, but Paramore’s volume is necessary in understanding and communicating their music. William’s warped vocals combined with punchy drums and sharp guitar riffs give the feeling of disquiet on which her lyrics feed.For anyone (hopefully older than me) who feels like the Foo Fighters or Arcade Fire just aren’t cutting it anymore or feel like Olivia Rodrigo just doesn’t get you, give This Is Why a listen. Even if the music doesn’t actually make you any younger, it’ll sure make you feel it.