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rrramble retrospective: Paramore (2013)

One moment you're on a 3AM teenage-angst fuelled bender listening to Hayley Williams on your Skullcandy earphones, then you blink, and somehow it's now been ten years since Paramore released their self-titled fourth album, Paramore...ain't it fun?

Paramore (2013) released to generally high reviews, but it's impossible to forget Sputnik Music's branding of the album as "f***ing foolishness", an album that produces such strong emotion at both end of the scale begs another listen, we had our writers tell us their thoughts...

Illustration in black and white of Paramore Singer Hayley Williams with her back turned and in a dancing pose. She is wearing a jacket with the text “Grow up” written on her back. Around her are tartan pink and orange cut outs in the shape of triangular spikes.
Artwork by @ellxamcd_art

Isaac

I’ll be honest, this is one of my favourite albums of all time and, even 10 years later, I simply refuse to be reasonable about it. So, I’m going to rely entirely on the other writers to give you a thoughtful and balanced review while I explain why I would commit the seven deadly sins for Hayley Williams and Paramore…

Greed — ‘Be Alone’

To take for yourself. Be indulgent, hold your own space, hold your love, and dance alone together. Even alone we are reminded to hold what matters close to us, as desire ceases to be a site of emptiness and becomes a source of joy. To want others for yourself is triumphant.

Envy — ‘Now’

Hurt things that we are, we recover our strength, and place ourselves firmly on the ground in order to reach out and seize our share of the future. Defiant, the album proclaims a bold voice of its own in a wave of renewed energy.

Wrath — ‘Ain’t It fun’

Paramore’s days of rage have passed but this heart can still start a riot. Who is the subject of our wrath? The arrogant who hurt us? The world? Our own inadequacy? There is fun in the ambiguity. Paramore makes anger fun, turning the threat of all consuming resentment into something powerful and cathartic. Yes. This album is all contradictions; happy, angry, sad, confused: sing and dance and let it all out.

Sloth — ‘Daydreaming’

A pause. Slow beats and breathy lyrics that break into a chorus of fireworks. Sometimes we’re sad; breaking out into the world can hurt and that’s okay. We’re allowed to stop our relentless march forward, take stock of conflict and desire, in order to dream of somewhere else. When it’s all too much just stop and listen to your favourite album to remind you: things get better.

Gluttony — ‘Future’

We love when artists push the boat out and write a 5+ minute song, ‘Future’ gives us a surfeit of music in this 8 minute instrumental, and still leaves us wanting more. You can lose yourself in the song’s excess, sliding across the contemplative melancholy lyrics until words fall away to the richly textured music. The sound is evocative of the album's themes of struggle, rebirth, and joy Breathe it all in.

Lust — ‘Still Into You’

Feel it in your whole body and let the rhythm pulse across your chest, for Paramore’s most playful and earnest love song. Delight in the openness of this love that calls out, not to the perfect partner, but to everything. Pull your friends close and dance together because you’re into them, you’re into yourself, you’re into this song. It’s lust for what life can be.

Pride — ‘Anklebiters’

Fall in love with yourself, because you deserve it no matter what the anklebiters might say. Sometimes the world will be against you but what do you care when your capacity to be alone is your greatest strength. Indulge in your own invulnerability, and shake off everything trying to hold you back.

And finally — ‘Last Hope’

There is pain but we keep going. We keep going and sometimes we get to look ahead and see all the joy there is. Keep going, it does not mean that pain has stopped, but the blood in your veins says you're still here. Keep going because there’s a spark in you and you kept going before and there is all this joy you’ve made. There is pain but there’s also resilience, hope, and that is your triumph.

Illustration of a Red Rectangular sticker that reads “Hello my name is Paramore” Paramore is written in black in the style of their 2013-2017 logo design.
Artwork by ellxamcd_art

Jayne

Be still my beating scene-kid heart, it’s Paramore. The soundtrack to my teenage years, and, now, my nostalgia fuelled chore playlists, Paramore holds a special place in my heart as a band. The self-titled Paramore might be one of my lesser listened to albums of theirs, but nonetheless it is a favourite.


Previous albums like Riot and Brand New Eyes felt more tethered to the bands roots of alternative rock, but Paramore brings a new feel to the table. It’s playful and feels like the band is pushing at the boundaries that previously defined their genre - and enjoying it. This change is especially welcome as this album was released after losing two original members. There’s something to be said about the redefining of one’s identity that this album manages to capture in its track list as well as the titling, promotion, and music videos that came alongside it.


One thing is for certain, while experimenting they didn’t lose their ability to create memorable melodies and chantable lyrics. Paramore is packed with the kinds of songs that people love to scream at the top of their lungs, both in concert and at home. Still Into You maintains its popularity to this day. I still see TikToks using it as backing tracks for dances, vlogs, and most noticeably shipping fan-edits, and I feel like that is all you need to know about the impact of a song that is ten years old this year!

'Fast in My Car' and 'Ain’t It Fun' are another two of my personal favourites. Both have a flavour of 90s grunge to them, and are two of the most experimental offerings. 'Ain’t It Fun' reaches its climax with a gospel choir in the backing, it’s different to anything Paramore have previously done but is an exciting introduction to the new direction their tone takes. It still gives me goosebumps.

If there is anything letting this album down then it’s the number of tracks - and I’m usually a firm believer that “too much of a good thing” is not possible. There aren’t any particular songs that I actively dislike, but I do feel a little like some of them are only present because of the band’s inability to shed them. Both of the 'Interlude' tracks are interesting snippets of potential, but I think we could have done without them. They feel like half-formed ideas, presented to the public as means of getting feedback on future songs, if not just snippets of other existing tracks reimagined. I’ve never been a fan of albums doing that, and I’d much rather they give me an album of ten fully developed songs and shelf the interludes until they’re something more fully developed.

Though, as much as I dislike them, I do have to wonder if the album and the story it’s trying to tell would be the same if they weren’t present. So I suppose it’s a very small pet-peeve of mine in comparison to how much I enjoy the rest of the album.

Leader singer of Paramore, Hayley Williams, is photographed mid-performance. She has dyed bright orange hair, a black graphic t-shirt and a leather jacket. Her mouth is open as she is mid-song. The background is black.
Hayley Williams in 2013. Photo credit: Wikipedia

Amy Paramore’s eponymous fourth studio album is a mould-breaking, nostalgic venture with tight hooks. Not limited by their typical punk genre of music, Paramore makes a good attempt to experiment with their sound. It was a bit hit and miss but ultimately worth a listen.

As a casual listener of Paramore, I enjoy their more popular songs. 'Misery Business', ‘Decode’ and ‘Ignorance’ are some of my most played tracks when I want to go back to my angsty teenage years. I haven’t listened to their individual albums before and was interested to learn more about their music and hopefully find some new favourites to listen to.

‘Ain’t It Fun’ is a stand-out track, an instant classic with its catchy guitar rift and 80s vibe. Hayley Williams’ punchy vocals enlace the album with self-assured attitude. Yet, she can also slow it down and give songs a down-to-earth, genuine feel. ‘Hate to See Your Heart Break’ is a good example of this. Hayley's heartfelt vocals is paired with some sombre lyrics and vivid imagery. Comparing emotional pain to a dull knife ripping through the softest skin. I forgot how angsty Paramore could be…

A couple of the songs have long instrumental breaks, letting the music speak for itself rather than using lyrics. Sometimes this works, but sometimes it means some songs don’t resonate with me so much. ‘Future,’ for example, feels like it’s dragging at first. It then escalates into a cacophony of drums and cymbals which seems more suited to a cinematic trailer. It was a powerful sound but didn't make me connect with the music on a more personal level.

Unfortunately, some of the music sounds generic and I was having trouble finding something to be excited by. Neither ‘Part II’ or ‘Now’ made me want to get up and dance but perhaps I would feel differently if I were to see these performed live. Often, the live performance is what brings a song to life. Listening to them on a laptop in the middle of a dreary afternoon probably doesn’t do them justice.

I found ‘(One of Those) Crazy Girls’ pleasant listening. The sort of song I could listen to casually in the background. Tongue-in-cheek but a classic pop rock tune that doesn’t take itself too seriously. However, I didn’t find any new favourites. The songs I knew, I enjoyed, but the others felt kind of lost in the crowd. ‘Still into You,’ ‘Ain’t it Fun’ and ‘Grow Up’ are catchy and memorable and stood out to me the most. Perhaps I am biased as I was familiar with these already. But maybe the stand outs are the most remembered for a reason.

I enjoyed the experimental nature of the album, the different instruments used for different songs. There’s synth, orchestral pieces, and even a ukulele for interlude pieces. It feels like a Pick n' Mix which makes for great listening if you have an eclectic music taste. I appreciate the album for its experimental nature and positive energy but think I’ll be sticking to the songs I know and love. Isn’t that what you do with Pick n' Mix anyway?

The text 'PARAMORE STILL INTO YOU' is written in black, the font mimics the look of handwriting. The text is imposed over a white scribble, similar to Tipex. The main background is made up of green and orange rhombus' which go diagonally across the image.
Cover from the Single release of 'Still Into You.' Image credit: Paramore

Sophie The year is 2013. I am 17 years old, I have just passed my driving test and am dating a boy for the first time in my life. Thinking about it, dating might be too generous a term, perhaps labelling it "the talking stage" is more appropriate. Either way, it had been a month and I was in love (obviously). I was listening to 'Still Into You' on repeat and revelling in the excitement of it all. And then tragedy struck…my first ever heart break.

I have such a distinct memory of lying on the floor of my bedroom in darkness and desperately trying to find something to make me feel better. I found comfort in Hayley Williams telling me how she "Hates to See My Heart Break." She breathed life back into poor distraught 17-year-old me with that song. Actually, the whole album did, to be honest. I don’t know if anyone else remembers being 17 - it was hard. Never mind heartbreak, what about the stress of A levels, and growing up and friendships changing? It was round about the time everyone started to face real world problems, with absolutely no idea what we were doing. Being 17 was really not fun. This album gives me rose coloured glasses though when I think back to that time.

Songs like 'Future' and 'Last Hope' had sad little stressed out me romanticising the future. 'Daydreaming' had me sat in my A level English class literally daydreaming about moving away from Milton Keynes (can you blame me?) These songs gave me hope. Whilst being 17 was hard, the possibilities of what lay ahead where so exciting. Me and my friends would drive around blasting this album and singing/yelling along at the top of our lungs. Even bangers like 'Now' still had that angsty Paramore feeling that has been so loved by both the scene and the mainstream since 'Misery Business' graced our ear drums for the first time.

This album was very aptly named Paramore, as for the first time, it felt like the band were being true to themselves. They’d grown as musicians and artists but not forgotten their beginnings. It makes me feel nostalgic for a time that was simultaneously the most boring and the most exciting years of my life. Paramore have always been great at capturing those teen angst feelings, but there was something different about this album, something new. A healthy mixture of teenage angst and optimism for what the future holds. Hayley said no more being sad emos, we are hopeful emos now! And I was here for it. Now I can listen to these songs and be reminded of those feelings I had at 17 and reflect on what I have done with my life in the past 10 years. I think 17-year-old me would be pretty happy with how it’s gone (especially the fact that I no longer live in Milton Keynes.) The Paramore album will always hold a special place in my heart, at both 17 and 27. And do you know what, Hayley was right, you can’t go crying to your mama cos you are on your own in the real world, BUT it is still pretty fun.



Edited by Florence Strang Boon.






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