Paramore – Brand New Eyes – 28/9/09

Posted on October 1, 2009

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Paramore confuse me as a band. On the one hand I see the image that surrounds them them and the taint of the genre that they have found themselves lumped in with (something not helped by being attached to the increasingly “emo” centric Fueled By Ramen), but on the other I hear a lot of potential which often breaks through to give a promise of what could be if they let go of some of their hang-ups.

Opening tracks Careful and Ignorance are as fine an example of my point as any, with soaring choruses and excellent vocal performances from Hayley Williams (arguably Paramore’s greatest asset in terms of music and image) battling with well realised riffs packing a punch greater than anything heard on the Tennessee band’s previous efforts. Both serve to the pique the interest of the most casual of listeners, especially as Ignorance has been well chosen as the first single with its background yelps and melody sure to make many younger fans pick up the full album.

Unfortunately, along with roughly two thirds of the rest of Brand New Eyes, both tracks share a very similar theme. Followed in quick succession are Playing God and Brick By Boring Brick, both of which show a certain musical competency if not much ambition, but both, like the two tracks before, are transparently linked to last year’s internal problems. It’s been well documented that Paramore nearly called it a day last year and that producing Brand New Eyes has been an act of catharsis, but there really are far too many tracks on here which cover that turbulent period without applying any sort of metaphor or allegory. Yes its raw and honest (especially Looking Up), but it’s far too introverted, possibly symptomatic of a band who started out so young, and no matter how the musical pace ebbs and flows it begins to get dull fairly rapidly. At the end of the day it just isn’t a subject most of us can connect to and empathise with.

Far more interesting are some of the later tracks such as the subdued acoustic twanging of Misguided Ghosts and the yearning screech of All I Wanted which benefit all the more from branching off from the rest of the album musically and lyrically, with the latter especially seeing the band cut loose a bit more from their usually polished sound.

Brand New Eyes is a confident offering from a band who have returned from the brink, and it will doubtlessly appease the groups legions of teenage fans. Paramore are still a relatively new band though, and they could be so much more without really doing much extra. With a bit more life experience reflected in the lyrics, a few more songs that deviate from the template crafted over the three albums and a producer unafraid to upset the burgeoning emo market by injecting some grit and grime, Paramore could really mature and become a genuinely interesting prospect to much more people. They have the potential, they just need the courage to unlock it.

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