Paramore - Brand New Eyes
As world domination becomes ever more of an option for Paramore, the devotion the Tennessee five piece inspire is nothing short of startling. Little Hayley Williams clones are taking over the streets. A tip : next time you find yourself cast as Embarrasing Parent in the confines of your own home by your own offspring and their skinny jeans, plaid-claid mates, throw in a casual “Do you like Paramore ?” It’s hardly a Titanic of an ice-breaker but it might just get you beyond mono-syllabic. Hey, mention you’ve seen ‘em and you’d think you’d said you were at Altamont. Or Reading when Jimmy Eat World were on. Or something.
Paramore return to an enlarged fan base hungry for album number three. If predecessors ‘All We Know is Falling’ and ‘Riot!’ did it for you, ‘Brand New Eyes’ is more of the same. Not a bad thing. To be entirely accurate, a couple of acoustic tracks offer welcome respite from the bluster but for the most part it’s business as usual. What is worth noting now is that no matter how often and how well Paramore convert their rawk drive into exceptionally smartly fashioned pop songs, they land more blows when at their most ferocious. No matter how slick the likes of ‘CrushCrushCrush’ or ‘When it Rains’, ‘Riot!’ was at its best when it lived up to its name. The clatter and clang of the likes of ‘Misery Business’ and ‘For a Pessimist I’m Pretty Optimistic’ gave their last album teeth and it’s no different here.
When they manage their chops with drive and precision and veer off all over the damn shop, meeting somewhere in the bridge before nailing the huge chorus, the effect can be breath-taking. Take the barnstorming ‘Careful’, album opener and very best thing on here. It’s an absolute battering ram, and great fun for those of us who remember when Iron Maiden were more than just a name on a hoody, for it sounds just like them - the racing riffola, the thrum of the bass, the screaming vocals. The fabulous single ‘Ignorance’ is similarly enlivening. If they start their UK shows in this order in December, the roof’s coming off. (It’s probably coming off anyway.) Just when you thing you’ve got the measure of Paramore 2009, ‘Playing God’ drops off the pace and hits you with a hook that channels ‘Tango in the Night’ era Fleetwood Mac through AC/DC. It works fantastically well. And so it goes. Forgive me for not focusing on the songs too much. There are only a couple from the ‘Paramore Template’ box and no real stinkers. ‘Misguided Ghosts’ is just Hayley and fragile acoustic guitar – quietly marvellous. ‘Decode’, metal power ballad from the ‘Twilight’ soundtrack, merits inclusion.
Hayley Williams, flame-haired pocket rocket, is still their strongest suit. I see she’s stopped wearing that “Paramore is a band” t-shirt. Quite right too. Plaudits for the playing, as always, but it’s the Williams yelp that gives them something approaching identity. Just as effective exposed on the likes of ‘The Only Exception’, it’s a marvel as it bites off a dozen syllables a second - “Don’t wanna hear your sad songs, don’t wanna feel your pain” - on ‘Ignorance’. I know the girls love her cos they wanna be her and the boys love her cos they wanna be with her … if they could only straighten their back, lift their head and get that damn fringe out of their eyes. I know that, but I like her because she’s a young woman operating in a man’s business with a semblance of intelligence, charm and character. Oh and she can sing the arse off most of her peers. Whoever they are. Don’t upset her, boys.
If you can get past the gnawing feeling that, ultimately, Paramore’s ire is less vitriolic and more petulant than it might be (major lyrical theme : ‘I don’t have time for your shit’), then it’s when Williams focuses on the intimate that she hits the mark more closely. On ‘The Only Exception’ she sings “When I was younger I saw my daddy cry and curse at the wind.” Jeez – there’s half a novel in a dozen words there. Similarly, ‘Turn it Off’’s opening line (“I scraped my knees while I was praying and found a demon in my safest haven”) hints at a growing candour and maturity. More of that next time, please, but all said, I’d say the kids are alright in such safe hands. ‘Brand New Eyes’ is stirring, energised and great, great fun. Smart kids, these. Paramore kick sass.