Tennessee emo-rockers Paramore are an interesting proposition – an unknown quantity to music fans of a certain age and stripe but huge enough among teens and early twenty-somethings to sell out the o2.
This fourth album is as produced and sleek as a musical Faberge egg but the band, led by 24-year-old Hayley Williams, make their overtly commercial pop rock growl and snap on a new set of songs that show maturity, musically and otherwise. Paramore are down to a three piece following the acrimonious departure of brothers Josh and Zac Farro two years ago due to their unhappiness with the band’s commercial drift and the singer's ascent as the focal point. Well, duh. Williams, a firecracker of a vocalist, ricochets back with a new sound and a glint in her eye as she turns that schism into the theme of the majority of these songs.
She spits out words of bittersweet regret and splenetic glee at the mistake the Farro brothers have quite possibly made on the likes of Ain't It Fun, a great, great pop song and Now in which her holler manages to drown out even the drums and artfully grungey guitar raining down around her. Grow Up and Still Into You are indebted to No Doubt but Williams finds her own voice and sound again on One Of Those Crazy Girls, a subversive break-up song that finds her rapid cycling between acceptance and bunny boiling.
This is a big, bright melodic rock pop album which will have rock snobs wrinkling their noses and the band’s young devotees delighted as Williams does vulnerable and wanton rock chick with conviction. At 64 minutes in duration, it's also long but if Paramore's decision to break up the power songs with lo-fi interludes of strummed ukulele sounds slightly contrived, they do succeed in sprinkling some grit among the gleaming production.
Williams and co can sound like a band in a generic ironic teen flick or a PG-rated version of Garbage but tellingly, this album ends in discord and uncertainty on a song called Future. It turns out that there’s a lot more to Paramore than meets the eye.