Music Review: With Self-Titled 2013 Album, Paramore & Hayley Williams Reshape Alternative Rock In Their Own Image
You hear that? That’s the sound of indie rock band Paramore tearing apart the vague entity that we call “punk rock” apart, only to stitch itself back together into something familiar, yet utterly unique. Nowhere is this more apparent than in standout track “Now.”
Yet it feels different this time, its bits and pieces incongruous: the insistent, petulant, pissy refrain of artists like Avril Lavigne and Fall Out Boy spiked with unrestrained guitar noise, synth keyboards and all manner of sonic bells and whistles that neither of the aforementioned pop sensations could conceive of. In their latest permutation, Paramore has more in common with grittier alt rock bands like the Joy Formidable than the mall punk crowd of which they were once a part of.
But then, Paramore frontwoman and vocalist Hayley Williams has never cared much about what’s permitted, either in the mainstream music world or the hallowed halls where punk rock authenticity is decided. The result is a bastard creation, an abomination of musical form stripped of its social context and welded into something new, all to suit the purpose of its architects. Lo and behold, “Now,” and the self-titled album it occupies.
Original guitarist and drummer Zac and Josh Farro have departed, and they took the band’s alt-rock conventions with them. Williams and remaining founding members Taylor York and Jeremy Davis fill the void, grafting on disparate styles, from to 1980s dance pop to gospel. This is something the arbiters of taste in the world of alternative music never could have consented to, and yet here it is, foaming at the mouth and worming its way into your skull in a rush of sticky pop hooks and subtle innovations. Now that’s punk rock.