Previously published on my Tumblr page, http://a-woman-apart.tumblr.com/
Last week I finally purchased “RIOT!” by Paramore. I believe it was their second album, a.k.a. “sophomore” production. It has a very upbeat theme to it, with even songs like “We are Broken” having a kind of musical enthusiasm to them.
It’s interesting to compare and contrast “All We Know is Falling” (the debut album) with RIOT! “All We Know” kind of had a kind of darker theme to it, with songs like “Emergency” and “Pressure” being the stand-outs on the album. There’s also “Conspiracy” with its plaintive and memorable,
Explain to me / This conspiracy against me / Tell me how / I’ve lost my power
RIOT! is just so much more lighthearted than that as a whole, with songs like “Crushcrushcrush” and the smarmy, tongue-in-cheek vengeful love song “Misery Business” (Misery Business was actually the first song I ever heard from Paramore). RIOT! has a whole “screw everything, we’re headed for the top” kind of message on it with optimistic songs like “Hallelujah” and “We Were Born for This”. You get the impression that Hayley and the band are really happy and comfortable with their identities. All We Know is Falling didn’t have that same kind of feel. In Pressure Hayley croons out,
Can you feel the pressure? / It’s getting closer now / We’re better off without you
In the first verse she says,
Tell me where our time went / And if it was time well spent / Just don’t let me fall asleep / Feeling empty again
There’s that hint of desperation in it that you don’t really find anywhere on RIOT! A notable lyric from RIOT! can be found in the song “Hallelujah” where during a transition Hayley sings,
We’ve got nothing but time on our hands / Got nothing but, got nothing but / Got nothing but time on our hands
There’s a kind of unbreakable, confident, rebellious spirit to RIOT! that sets it apart not just from All We Know but also from Paramore albums that came later on.
For example in “Brand New Eyes”- which is actually my favorite of all the albums to date- there’s a kind of return to the All We Know days of introspection and desperation, but also deeper levels of questioning and self-doubt. “Feeling Sorry” is a song about a friend of Hayley’s that simply isn’t moving forward in his life (as far as she’s concerned). When she is trying to spur him on to action, she sings this;
And I’m getting bored waitin’ round for you / We’re not getting any younger / And time keeps passing by but you waste it away / It’s time to move forward
So what happened to the Hayley of a couple years back who was singing about “nothing but time on our hands”?
You see these kind of shifts all throughout Paramore’s growth and progression as a band. Personally I think I’m starting to see a theme.
All We Know is Falling (debut)- Darker, instrospective, heavier guitar riffs
RIOT! sophomore) – Very upbeat and punk, tongue-in-cheek lyrics
Brand New Eyes – a return to introspection, varied stylistically, and a point of contention for the band
Paramore (self-titled) – Return to some tongue-in-cheek humor, still varied stylistically with a few notable punk songs, more outward-focused themes
Now you’ll probably be wondering what I mean about “return to some tongue-in-cheek humor” in the self-titled album. I feel like some of the interludes were a good example of this, like “I’m Not Angry Anymore, which is a ukulele-backed little bit that has lines like this,
I’m not bitter anymore / Yeah I’m syrupy sweet / Rot your teeth down to their cores / If I’m really happy
Also there’s the song that they won a Grammy for- “Ain’t it Fun”. It is kind of a facetious warning for someone who’s suddenly wakes up and finds themselves “livin’ in the real world”. Quite a bit more lighthearted than “Feeling Sorry” but with a similar kind of message.
Looking back, I kind of do see why Hayley said the album they chose to be self-titled was the 4th one and not an earlier one, because the 4th one really does the best job of comprising a little bit of all of the themes they’d been working towards so far. While it isn’t as raw or introspective as Brand New Eyes it does have its sad and self-reflective moments (Last Hope, Hate to See Your Heart Break, etc). Yes, we do have more silly and stylistically stand-out, ((One of Those) Crazy Girls), as well as the playfully brash (Anklebiters) and the “token” love song (Still Into You). So it is a very well-rounded album. In some ways I find it lacking- like maybe it tried to do too much and isn’t as cohesive as the rest- but overall I think it was brave work.
I also can’t wait to see what they’re bringing out next! Paramore has been a huge inspiration in my life. I feel like I’ve grown up going through so many of the struggles that they confronted on their albums and I can’t wait to keep adding more of their stuff to my collection.