The assuredness of Paramore’s debut ‘All We Know Is Falling’ placed them as musical saviours in waiting. An electric shock of songs that pinged with headbanging enthusiasm as much as it made you cry, it summed up everything emo was in 2005. It dripped with angst and unapologetic catchiness. It pissed off emo kids and pop purists alike by falling between the two camps while being a great example of both genres. Much anticipated second album ‘RIOT!’ attempts to do the same, but with a decadent precision – and so it stalls where it should shine.
Producer David Bendeth has ironed out their every crease with a very expensive iron. The result is that Paramore sound lost under this slick miscalculation. Galloping lead single ‘Misery Business’ is deceptively brilliant: angsty lyrics, a kiss-off riff and an undeniable chorus. It’s everything the rest of ‘RIOT!’ should have been but isn’t. Its attempts to branch out further than emo are ridiculously misjudged this time. Witness ‘When It Rains’ – a ‘slowie’ that by dint of its sonic perfection ends up sounding like ’80s power-balladeers Heart. Shudder in horror at ‘crushcrushcrush’, which is what you’d imagine Shania Twain would sound like if she ‘went emo’. It’s all too clear that despite being on the Wentz-affiliated Fueled By Ramen label, the band don’t have Fall Out Boy’s self-knowing pop nous as displayed on ‘Infinity On High’. In the end, whether it’s a cynical bid for the mainstream or an experiment gone wrong, ‘RIOT!’ barely registers as a minor disturbance.