Paramore, “This Is Why”

The sixth LP from the evolving punk trio charts the story of a band who have become a family ready to heal the wounds found in their past.

Paramore, This Is Why

The sixth LP from the evolving punk trio charts the story of a band who have become a family ready to heal the wounds found in their past.

Words: Matthew Pywell

February 10, 2023

This Is Why

Paramore’s pivot to pop on 2017’s After Laughter was a resounding success. With the reconciliation between vocalist Hayley Williams and drummer Zac Farro, who left the band alongside his brother Josh in 2010, wounds began to heal and the band headed in a brave new direction. Perhaps their shift to pop was inevitable, given Williams’ gift for crafting choruses that uplifted emo and pop-punk fans for years. Now, with the final release on their current label contract, This Is Why charts the story of a band who have not only become a family, but also one that’s finally ready to heal the wounds found in their past.

This sixth LP sees them dive back into pop music while further incorporating new wave and indie rock stylings. Take the title track: Starting with a sparseness that feels more akin to Williams’ recent solo records, where closeness and vulnerability were precious and necessary ingredients, it soon evolves into a wonky Talking Heads–esque groove. Similarly, one of the more surprising touchstones when it comes to influences for This Is Why is their dive into ’00s British indie rock. The band have recently discussed their admiration for contemporary groups such as Yard Act and Shame, but when listening to “C’est Comme Ça” you’re taken even further back in time to when landfill indie was paramount—think Bloc Party or Foals, both of whom will be joining the band as they tour North America this summer.

In terms of the lyrics, for the first time in their career Paramore’s songs contain a political edge—but not one that you’d expect from a band who’ve tended to shout their lyrics in the past. Instead, their approach on the current societal climate contains more nuance—no in-your-face lists of political demands, but instead calmer references to feelings we’ve all had over the last few years. “The News” is the most direct moment, speaking to the horrors of the 24-hour news cycle where everything is constantly made to seem doomy—and that’s before we even consider our own personal problems. “Shut your eyes, but it won’t go away,” Williams sings, succinctly summarizing those persistent feelings.

Elsewhere, it isn’t hard to see how healing became a vital part of their lyrics on This Is Why. Williams makes a hero and a villain of herself on “You First,” a track where self-reckoning is of high importance and a vital step in deciding where you go next. “Running Out of Time” feels as if the walls are closing in—it’s as though we’re watching Williams bury her face in a pillow and scream. “Crave” showcases Williams’ ability to spin a story on its axis, with the track about being immersed in love containing the suddenly biting line, “I romanticize even the worst of times / Where all it took to make me cry was being alive.”

“Thick Skull” closes the album, and it’s a note from Williams that feels like the burying of a hatchet, a necessary statement made in order to move on from her past. Throughout Paramore’s run, they’ve endured misogynistic comments that would paint Williams as a controlling leader of the band. Josh Farro’s public breakup and exit from the band was also a huge bump in the road. “I am attracted to broken people,” Williams begins the track, as if intentionally drawing blood when she cuts her hands on their shards as she tries to pick them up. It’s a confrontation between Williams and the events in her life that have been weaponized against her throughout her time in Paramore. When it comes to healing, this feels like a statement where Williams fully severs herself from her past.

This Is Why ultimately feels as if Paramore are ripping off a plaster, now content that although the scar may still be visible, the pain has subsided. Pushing themselves in a satisfying new direction, Paramore are in their healthiest state since they formed.