This Is Why is the sixth album by Paramore, their first in almost six years. It incorporates pop-punk elements reminiscent of their early work, but at the same time feels so modern and fresh - a dichotomy that many of their peers from that era haven't been able to achieve themselves. They pull off the post-punk alternative rock sound perfectly and the elements of new-wave and dream-pop are so well done too. This album has so many strong moments, from Hayley Williams' incredible vocals to the lyricism and the instrumentals. I was only a casual listener of Paramore before This Is Why was released, but the three singles they put out leading up to this album really caught my attention and made me look forward to hearing the rest of the record. 

This album is so introspective, with themes focusing on self-doubts, fears and regrets. The backdrop of it being written in the time of a pandemic, along with all of the historical and political events we have collectively gone through in the past three years, also factors into many of the emotions explored throughout This Is Why. It is politically and socially relevant to the times we are living through, and they expressed those feelings in such a powerful way.

The title track and opener for the album really sets the stage for all that This Is Why stands for and all that is to come for the rest of the record. "This is why I don't leave the house, you say the coast is clear, but you won't catch me out, oh, why? this is why", feels like the perfect lyric to start the rest of the journey this album takes the listener on. That same sentiment is carried through on the second track, "The News", which is about the dizzying media cycle that no one can seem to look away from - "I'm far, so far from the front line and I feel useless behind this computer", Hayley sings in the pre-chorus. "Every second, our collective heart breaks, all together, every single head shakes, shut your eyes, but it won't go away, turn on, turn off the news", she continues on the chorus. 

So much of this album deals with both the literal wars happening in the world as well as a personal mental war, which was an underlying theme especially in the three singles they released in the weeks leading up the album. The third single, "C'est Comme Ca", with a French title that translates to "It's Like That", is a very fun and experimental song on the album with a mix of sonic influences. It still very much follows that same theme of trying to overcome personal struggle and almost feeling like you need chaos in order to survive. "I know that regression is rarely rewarded, I still need a certain degree of disorder," Hayley sings. "I’m trying to get un-addicted to a survival narrative. The idea of imminent doom is less catastrophic to me than not knowing anything about the future or my part in it. The guys and I are all in much more stable places in our lives than ever before. And somehow that is harder for me to adjust to," she said in an interview with NME. 

"Running Out of Time", also shares a similar perspective of being frustrated with yourself, but at the same time not really wanting to change or even knowing where to start. In an interview with Genius Verified, Hayley said, "I was like, 'Oh, it’d be really funny to roast myself for how disorganized I am and how it impacts my everyday life. Every day, I run out of time.'" She continued later in her Genius Verified interview, "I feel like my sense of anxiety around time management has gotten worse since the pandemic. It was so much tragedy, so much heavy, dark shit happening, and then also just stillness. The stillness part of it, I wish I could keep and take with me, but that’s not real life. There’s so much serious shit happening, there’s so many causes. Like, how does a person who is self-aware enough, but also politically and culturally aware, socially aware, how do you even pick what thing to focus on and maybe devote your life to in some respect, when everything is an emergency? It does feel like there’s not enough time in the day, in the month, in the year, to fix everything."

"Big Man, Little Dignity" is a song that can apply to so many different situations and is so relevant to the conversation surrounding the topic of toxic masculinity and cancel culture, especially in the context of the entertainment industry. It is about watching a famous man who continuously does bad things but never seems to face any consequences for it. "I can't look away, you're like a movie that I love to hate, I fanaticize your demise". "The News" feels connected in that way because it's something we just can't seem look away from, even if it is doing more damage to yourself by focusing your attention on it. "Bet it feels good to leave the past behind, your subscription to redemption has been renewed, you keep your head high, smooth operator in a shit-stained suit"

"You First" is my favorite on the album - I really can't get enough of this song. It is once again focusing on battling the two sides of yourself and having to consciously choose good over evil. "Can't shake the devil sitting on my shoulder", Hayley sings. Everyone is at constant battle with themselves to not feed into the negative energies that we all face on a daily basis - whether it is on a personal level or through the media. ""Everyone is a bad guy, and there's no way, no way to know, who's the worst", she sings, "Karma's gonna come for all of us, and I hope, well, I hope, I just hope, that she comes, comes for you first". This song also has my favorite lyric on the album - "Turns out I'm living in a horror film, where I'm both the killer and the final girl, so, who, who are you?", I love all of the imagery that line conveys.

"Figure 8" is also so vivid lyrically, with some of the stand-out lyrics being; "I lost my way, spinnin' in an endless figure eight", "Candlelight, burnin' at both ends tonight", and "Not a trace, no end and no beginning". It builds up to what feels like the climax of the album, all of the emotions that make up so much of the first part of This Is Why all seem to be bubbling to the surface by the end of the track. The last three songs are much more subdued than the rest of the album - "Liar" is one of the best moments of the album because the beauty of it truly lies in its simplicity. It has an ethereal dream-pop sound, with one of the best vocal performances on the entire album. "Oh, my love, I lied to you, but I never needed to, oh, my love, I lied to you, but you always knew the truth", Hayley sings on the song, which she has said is inspired by her relationship with the band's guitarist, Taylor York. 

"Crave" is another stunning song about appreciating the journey of life, the good and the bad, and craving to relive it all over again. "I romanticize even the worst of times, when all it took to make me cry was bein' alive, look up and see a reflection of someone who never gave way to the pain, what if I told 'em that now that I'm older there isn't a moment that I'd wanna change?" This song is also about wanting to relive a moment before it's even over because "Just for a second it all felt simple, I'm already missin' it". In an interview with NME, Hayley opened up about the inspiration behind this song, "When the guys showed me 'Crave' I was pumped because we haven’t had anything that sonically felt like that in a really long time. We don’t like to give too much credit to nostalgia, we like to move forward. But with the music, you couldn’t escape that feeling. I was just thinking about why I always miss the moment that I’m in because I’m too worried about when it’s going to be over."

It feels like this album ends in a very different way than it began. I view the closing song, "Thick Skull", as a surrender to all of the heavy emotions and insecurities that the band is trying to conquer, or at least make some sense of, throughout the album. It is such a bold and powerful note to end on, the last chorus especially is incredible. "The last song of the album is reflective of my biggest insecurities throughout our career. The shit people projected onto me all these years: saying the band is manufactured or that I’m using my friends for my own personal career advances," Hayley said in an interview with Line of Best Fit. "I decided to speak directly to those fears, even indulging the naysayers. This being the last album of this era of our career as part of the same contract I signed as a teen, I just want to leave all those fears and the bullshit here. I’m not taking it with me any further."

Thanks for reading! I would love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below! 

Photo Credit: Paramore, Atlantic Records, Zachary Gray

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