It’s been six years since Paramore’s After Laughter, a bouncy pop-rock album that hid dark lyrics under its sunny exterior. A lot has happened since then, with shakeups in the band’s roster and two solo albums from lead singer Hayley Williams. Now in 2023, the group isn’t as careful about hiding their darker view of the world, and it works in their favour. This Is Why, Paramore’s sixth studio album, is a welcome return as it takes the band’s sound in some new directions while holding tighter to their signature snark.
“I never said I wasn’t petty,” Williams repeats on the bridge of the blaring rock song, “You First.” Paramore’s music has always been known to have a knack for vengeance, revelling in the downfall of people who’ve crossed them. “You First” is an especially nasty takedown of a certain someone who pissed Williams off, as she compares them to a pathetic stray animal, coming back repeatedly to beg for scraps. In “Big Man Little Dignity,” she studies a man she despises from across the room and wants him dead, as a surprisingly relaxed flute plays in the song’s background.
Nastiness aside, this is Paramore at their best; a bit of humour, some unexpected musical turns, and righteous fury. Sure, it’s a new year and maybe we’re all trying to be nicer and more understanding, but Paramore knows that a little spite can still feel really good.