Tennessee rock band Paramore released their sixth studio album “This is Why” in February of 2023, marking the band’s first album release in six years. The album showcased a lyrical and sonic evolution from the band’s previous records.
The band currently consists of lead vocalist Hayley Williams, drummer Zac Farro and guitarist Taylor York. The trio has previously worked together on their fifth studio album “After Laughter” from 2017 when Zac Farro made his return to the band earlier that year.
Some of the main focuses of “This is Why” include the general frustrations and anxieties in a pandemic-ridden society, as well as feelings of self-worth. The album is complemented firmly by raw and catchy post-punk production across its 10 tracks, with Hayley Williams commenting that the English rock band Bloc Party was a huge inspiration for the album’s more guitar-focused instrumentals.
The opening title track “This is Why” touches on themes of social anxiety and isolation. The meaning behind the album title is made clear during the song’s lyrics, “this is why I don’t leave the house,” as a means to be isolated from criticism and to focus more on oneself and family. Williams and the rest of the band have been vocal about their struggles with social anxiety and depression in the age of ceaseless online criticism often involving Paramore itself. Williams is also frustrated with how people have grown less kind and more aggressive toward each other even during a global pandemic.
The impact of social media continues in “The News.” The continuous exposure to tragic events through the internet has affected many people, with the overwhelming stream of negativity becoming increasingly more difficult to tune out. The track “Running out of Time” gears its attention towards the perspective of Williams and her lack of motivation when living in a monotonous and commotional time period. The band meditates on the feeling of acceptance that the current reality can’t directly be changed, featured on the next track “C’est Comme Ca,” a French phrase repeated throughout the song’s chorus that translates to “it is what it is.”
The later tracks touch on the effects that deceitful individuals have on others, showcased in “Big Man, Little Dignity” and “Figure 8.” “Big Man, Little Dignity” features a more heavy and ethereal synthy production as Williams comments on the controversies that powerful, deceitful men tend to get involved with, which results in suffering no real consequences. In “Figure 8,” Williams comments on a toxic relationship from her past and how much she gave her partner, only for it to cause her further emotional distress. The dilemma of good against evil is expanded upon in “You First,” an energetic, catchy dance-punk track that touches on the instinctual desires that lead us astray.
The last few tracks take a turn towards more dream pop production, while the songwriting remains just as consistently strong. The denial of instinctual desires continues when Williams tries to suppress her emotions in “Liar” as well as her desires to live in a time of peace and prospect as seen on “Crave.” The final track “Thick Skull” shows how Williams felt a sense of worthlessness and insecurity and would blame herself for something that was out of control. Ultimately, it circles back to feelings of anxiety from social media criticism and ongoing global events.
“This is Why” is a rather excellent meditation on feelings of social anxiety when faced with negativity. Paramore has shown an amazing level of maturity, both in Hayley Williams’ brilliant songwriting, performance and the overall production that ties the album together, making it yet another standout in their discography.