Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Paramore's Brand New Eyes

Rating: 4/5

Who could’ve imagined that those teenage, emo-hicks from Tennessee with the chick lead singer had an album like this in them? Opening cuts “Careful” and “Ignorance” kick the doors off the hinges, perfecting their signature style (as seen with previous gems like “Misery Business” and “For A Pessimist I’m Pretty Optimistic”) with fun, dynamic songwriting, irresistible melodies, and a nice dose of righteous anger from ridiculously-talented lead singer Hayley Williams. Williams’ heartfelt lyrics give the listener a bleak yet hopeful window into the intense pressure and inner-turmoil the band has endured since their second album “Riot!” catapulted them into the spotlight a few years ago. Like Gwen Stefani at her best, Williams’ lyrics have a charming, almost wide-eyed innocence to them, whether hopeful or steeped in sorrow and uncertainty, that is easy to underestimate, but impossible to ignore. And where most male emo-punk singers adopt a high-pitched, prepubescent squeal, Williams’ voice is soaring and powerful, recalling Kelly Clarkson or Pat Benatar. In other words, Williams’ performance on “Brand New Eyes” is worth the price of admission alone.

The rest of the band ain’t slouching either though; Paramore slash and bang throughout, but the band truly shines when they stretch out a bit and take a few chances, which they most definitely do on stand-out tracks like the country-tinged “The Only Exception” and the beautifully-understated “Misguided Voices”. The climax? Check out the final track “All I Wanted” and you’ll find a band that has truly arrived. Paramore flirted with a song like this with “Decode”, their contribution to the Twilight soundtrack, but this is the real McCoy. “All I Wanted” is where Paramore have finally transcended their Pete Wentz affiliation, their age, and even that silly emo-punk genre of theirs. Amid roaring guitars and thunderous percussion, Williams gives the kind of vocal performance Katy Perry, Avril, etc. could only dream of; powerful, passionate, and believable. Like Green Day circa “Warning” or System of a Down circa “Toxicity”, Paramore’s “Brand New Eyes” showcases a young band that’s making all the right decisions and breaking away from the pack artistically (something bands like Linkin Park and Fall Out Boy have yet to figure out). And they know it too; on the surging “Looking Up” Hayley sings, “God knows the world doesn’t need another band/but what a waste it would have been.” Damn right.

No comments: