From Emo to New Wave Revivalists – Paramore are Back with ‘Hard Times’

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By Jack

Paramore clearly haven’t read the script.

If you’re a pop-punk band who rose to prominence in the mid 00s and wrote overwrought ditties about tween romance, you shouldn’t still be here, really. Taxi for three!

At the very least you ought to be having ten-year anniversary tours, performing tracks that are doubly embarrassing and creaky now that you have a mortgage and two kids.

However Paramore are here, and they are making some of the most fun and exciting rock music around today. On ‘Hard Times’ Paramore further their maturation into alt-pop trailblazers.

I do not listen to those early Paramore recordings. I did back in the day obviously; To grow up in that time it was impossible to escape ‘Misery Business’ on MTV. But those early albums, like emo itself, have not aged well.

Their self-titled comeback was no huge makeover. Paramore was a smart and calculated adjustment. Hayley Williams held onto the big choruses and youthful thrust that was the core of their style, re-tooling it for a loose and playful pop sound.

This was a move towards new-wave that popped with Cyndi Lauper choruses and rhytmic guitars that recalled the dorky excellence of The Cars. ‘Still Into You’, from the sound of tapping teaspoons to the truncated riffs, scanned like a gritty reboot of ‘My Best Friend’s Girl’.

‘Hard Times’ is better still. It furthers their intrepid ventures into alt-pop, and the tropical flavour will slot perfectly into radio playlists where ‘Shape of You’ is still in heavy rotation. The hook is simple, but spot-on, and the drums crack with a shuffling energy and mid-tempo restraint we rarely see from a band often turning things to 11.

Add to that Hayley Williams, who has never sounded better. She has all the softness of a singer like Taylor Swift but informs that with surprising grit. Williams moved away from the boundless enthusiasm that was her hallmark, and for the better. That shit came across as tin-eared. ‘Hard Times’ reminds us that sarcasm is not lost on Hayley Williams. After losing the Farro brothers, who were founding members, then getting one back, and then getting sued by the bassist, Williams knows hard times better than most.

“I still don’t know how I even survive” sings Williams with a wink.

Paramore are back and they sound ready for anything.

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