|Fueled By Ramen · Warner Bros | discogs.com|
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This album was ranked fifth in my Top Ten Albums I Wrote About in 2017, and was awarded the Hotblack Desiato Detonator for Loud.
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Some of the most invigorating music is written when caution is thrown to the wind and they just have fun, damn it. That Dirty Projectors album from a few weeks ago is a perennial favourite, standing out light on its feet among their other heavier, darker, stodgier fare. From delightfully trashy Eurovision hits to more discerning veterans like my beloved Björk, the best and most engaging artistry taps into deep truths about human behaviour. For example: partying is rad. Refracted through this particularly bedazzling streamer-strewn prism, Paramore have written a sharp, moving and insightful commentary on modern life.
Previously, their incisive songsmithing was let down somewhat by drab, dry production, but this is not the case for their self-titled album. Paramore is bursting with variety, packed to the brim with ideas. Augmenting their muscular classic-rock guitars with stellar, sparkling nerve, they draw upon influences as far-flung as peppy pop-punk and groovy techno: from the occasional judiciously-placed disco fill to the disarming, doe-eyed string section that tenderly rounds out a deceptively simple ballad, Paramore never fails to engage and enthrall.
This is an album equally well primed to be screamed along to in a packed arena or to be appreciated through good headphones in a dark room. No Ceremonials Syndrome can rain on this blazing parade — despite the monstrous sixty-four-minute runtime, Paramore boasts not an ounce of fat to trim. Even including the cheeky ukulele interludes that helpfully partition the album into more digestible movements, there is never a dull moment.
The electrifying double whammy of 'Fast In My Car' and 'Now' that opens the album dispenses with monotonous, chugging guitar lines: the lead, rhythm and bass are all pulling their weight with joyous, headbanging aplomb. 'Ain't It Fun' kicks off with a chirpy xylophone riff and somehow makes its way to a gospel-inspired coda. Listen carefully and you may spot a squiggly Mario Kart synth.
Of course, none of this could cohere without the extroverted stylings of frontwoman Hayley Williams, noted human firework, who demands your attention and will not take no for an answer. The pint-sized neon punk throws herself unabashedly into her puppy-eyed millennial persona on 'Still Into You,' makes an about-face into bratty emo contrarian on 'Anklebiters' and still nails the tongue-in-cheek delivery of fifties-style stalker anthem 'One of Those Crazy Girls.' She is a force of nature: a mighty individual and a gravitational centre around which Paramore's disparate elements whirl like moons that are also disco balls.
From the instant Paramore roars onto the scene until at last it smoulders to a close, this album is endlessly imaginative and searingly original. And best of all, they're cutting loose and just having fun, damn it. Party on, Paramore.