An emo-pop collection that never skimps on fiendish catchiness.
Sarah Bee 2009
If you didn’t like Paramore before, their third album is unlikely to sway you. They make the kind of forceful, commercial emo-pop that music lovers love to hate. However, as forceful, commercial emo-pop goes – and it does – brand new eyes is very good. It is brash and gauche, but charming.
Careful kicks off with some unabashed U2-esque spankery, and Ignorance rattles with the rapid run-on lines and screaming sass of their brilliant single Misery Business. The high polish and gallivanting chart-humpingness of it all are unavoidable (and fun, too), but the third-album thoughtfulness is plain, and the songwriting chops and pop sensibilities of the band aren’t in question.
It’s resplendent with shiny shouting, but this is notably toned down for the likes of dreamy midpoint The Only Exception. (It suggests they’ve been listening to Coldplay. This is not a bad thing.) The standout is the pretty, almost folky Misguided Ghosts. When singer Hayley Williams softens her powerful voice it’s luscious, continuing to show Avril Lavigne up as the over-confident, under-likeable brat she is. Elsewhere there are oodles of melancholic hooks delivered with a cocky confidence that is more invigorating than obnoxious, and while the songs fall short of anthem status they never skimp on fiendish catchiness.
“We’re not getting any younger,” smirks 20-year-old Williams in Feeling Sorry – but the thing is that Paramore have apparently found the exact frequency of being 17, with all the giddy awful zinginess that encapsulates. Being 17 has been expressed in a thousand different ways and across all genres, but you know it when you hear it – the hairs stand up on your arms and spots break out on your chin. This is probably why they inspire such devotion in actual 17-year-olds – it’s their music.
The triumphant All I Wanted hangs on a goosepimply wail from Williams and slouches off on a meticulously drawn-out ribbon of feedback. It’s all carefully measured with edges frayed to perfection – but pop lives and dies by contrivance, and you just have to get it right. And they do.
They’re a fine pop band, Paramore – earnest, slightly bolshy, and a bit heroic.