Album review: Paramore – ‘Brand New Eyes’

Third album maturity amounts to the anger being turned up, and effectively so

You can see it in the pointed use of lower case lettering in the album title on the artwork, in the cruelly dismembered and mounted butterfly on the cover and in the tormented song titles – ‘Turn It Off’, ‘Ignorance’, ‘Playing God’. [a]Paramore[/a] have not only grown up, but grown into a cynical bunch. Despite being largely invisible to the ‘serious’ music fan in your life, Paramore are, pre-teen by pre-teen, taking over the world.

‘Brand…’ sorry, that should be ‘brand new eyes’, is their third album, and they’re keen to show that their spell in showbusiness so far, coupled with that awkward business of being a teenager, hasn’t been plain sailing. “You don’t deserve a point of view”, yelps role model to thousands of adolescent girls Hayley Williams on ‘Playing God’, “the only thing you see is you”. And if you thought that was harsh, then try this: “Next time you point a finger/I might have to bend it back/Or break it, break it off.” Thankfully, Paramore’s new-found rage hasn’t impinged on their talent for crafting a joyful pop song, as evidenced by the high octane likes of ‘Careful’ and ‘Ignorance’. They might be dark in tone, but they’re still a fairground-full of fun.

‘Looking Up’ is the glinting jewel in the ‘brand new eyes’ crown. Not nearly as arsed-off as some of the other songs on the record, it’s the kind of heart-swelling extravaganza that makes you want to grab the nearest person and pledge to travel to the ends of the earth with them. ‘Where The Lines Overlap’ goes on to give something back to the tens of thousands of fans who’ll be seeing the band on their tour this December, with Williams musing “I’ve got a feeling if I sing this loud enough/You’ll sing it back to me”. One hopes her eardrums are ready for the noise come winter…

Paramore also try and showcase their maturity by chucking a couple of slowies into the mix. ‘The Only Exception’ turns out to be a rather sappy, nondescript love song, which doesn’t quite warrant the abrupt change of pace. It feels like something [a]Katy Perry[/a] would dismiss for being too lightweight, with its mechanical, campfire strumming and general uninspiring air. Its saving grace, however, comes with Williams’ vocals, which are flawless and sturdy throughout. Even though the song gets soppy, she never does – weakness just ain’t in this lady’s repertoire, and for that we offer her a hefty high five.

The other downplayed moment is ‘Misguided Ghosts’, which strips away even more of the distinctive Paramore sound and replaces it with some almost folksy acoustic finger-picking. It’s perfectly pleasant but will hardly get [a]Laura Marling[/a] quaking in her boots. But this isn’t what we need Paramore for. We’ve got plenty of lady pop stars trilling about boys’n’love’n’stuff; what we really need is more women yelling their hearts out, being pissed off and then working through it, just like Willams does on the rest of the album. Sure, the two slower tracks might make for a break in the relentless pace, but who needs the rest? If you just so happen to be one of the best in the up-tempo pop-smattered emo-punk game, why bother slowing down? For this lot, more is most certainly more.

Leonie Cooper

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