Usually, I can pinpoint exactly when, where, and why I first got into a particular band or musician. For some reason, however, I can’t remember where I first heard of Paramore, or why I even first purchased their sophomore album, Riot! All I remember is listening to it a lot last fall, and it being among one of my favorites album of the time.
I can tell you why the album was a favorite of mine, even if I can’t tell you when or why I purchased it. Paramore, which is fronted by lead singer, Hayley Williams, is a pop/punk band, with a fun, lively sound that I always enjoy. Their songs are full of attitude and personality, with great instrumentation and singing.
The album begins with For A Pessimist, I’m Pretty Optimistic, a loud, guitar driven track. Right from the beginning of the song, we’re greeted with some fast drumming (Zac Farro) and heavy electric guitar (Josh Farro), giving the song a frantic, exciting feeling. Williams’ has been compared to Avril Lavigne both in the respects of her vocals and punk-rock style, though I find Williams’ to be superior in both regards. Vocally, she’s far more talented than Lavigne; though she does seem pretty limited vocally, she’s got a pleasant voice and can sing well on all of the band’s songs. This is shown in the first song, and she especially sounds nice as she sings during the chorus (“I never wanted to say this/You never wanted to stay/I put my faith in you, so much faith/And then you just threw it away”).
That’s What You Get was the fourth single released from the album, and is another fast-paced punk track. The song is a bit more interesting lyrically (“No sir, well I don’t wanna be the blame, not anymore/It’s your turn, so take a seat we’re settling the final score/And why do you lie to her, so much?/I can’t decide/You have made it harder just to go on/And why, all the possibilities well I was wrong”), and Williams’ sounds lovely as ever. The guitar in this song is also top-notch, all in all, creating an excellent track. For the record, I also KILL on this song in Rock Band 2– even on the highest setting…not that I’m bragging, or anything, though.
Though the first two songs were much heavier, Hallelujah (which has nothing to do with the popular Leonard Cohen hit of the same name), presents itself as a mid-tempo track. The electric guitars are still present, but they’re slowed down in accordance to the song’s slower melody. I absolutely love this song and have from the moment I’ve heard it; the lyrics (“Somehow everything’s gonna fall right into place/If we only had a way to make it all fall faster everyday/If only time flew like a dove/Well God, make it fly faster than I’m falling in love”), and Williams’ singing in the chorus really make the song, and are a big part of why I’m such a fan of this track in particular.
Another of my favorites follows with the album’s lead single, Misery Business. Right from the opening lyrics (“I’m in the business of misery/Let’s take it from the top/She’s got a body like an hourglass it’s ticking like a clock”), you’ll see that this song has plenty of that “attitude” that I mentioned above. The entire song is a spunky, in your face type track, that made me smile the first time I heard it. Williams’ vocals are appropriately punchy, making for a fun, catchy song.
The first ballad appears on the album, with When It Rains. I don’t find the ballads nearly as fun as the more upbeat ones, and despite sounding somewhat pretty, this song feels a lot like a rainy day- gray, gloomy, dreary. The following track Let The Flames Begin doesn’t fair much better. The title is about as exciting as it gets- the song drags on and though Williams’ vocals are showcased a bit, they’re lost on this boring song.
The album actually hits a level of mediocrity at this point, which is sad, because it’s fairly early on. Miracle is another mid-tempo track that’s nice enough, but not nearly as thrilling as the opening tracks. CrushCrushCrush is one of the album’s singles, though I don’t really understand why. Its lack of a memorable chorus, and odd lyrical structure weaken the song, making it almost always a skip for me. We Are Broken is another bland, dreary ballad, while Fences returns to the band’s upbeat, punk-rock sound, but still doesn’t quite compare to the better tracks on the album.
Luckily, the album ends on a good note with Born For This. The song begins with a nice guitar riff that plays throughout. The song’s strength is definitely in the lyrics (“Everybody sing like it’s the last song you will ever sing/Tell me, tell me, do you feel the pressure now?/Everybody live like it’s the last day you will ever see/Tell me, tell me, do you feel the pressure now?”) and anthem-like refrain (“We were born for this”). The song ends with the repetition of the refrain, creating an inspiring, very strong end.
I really like Paramore. As far as pop-punk music goes, they’ve got the formula down perfectly- nice guitars and drumming, good vocals, and catchy tracks. Riot! is a very good album, despite suffering a bit towards the middle. The strongest songs really make the album, and it’s a highly enjoyable disc, all things considered.
1. For a Pessimist I’m Pretty Optimistic
2. That’s What You Get
4. Misery Business
5. When It Rains
6. Let the Flames Begin
9. We Are Broken
11. Born For This