Hayley Williams had no choice but to grow up. When you begin your career before the age of 18, growing up in the public eye is impossible to avoid. It is as natural as the changing of the seasons. Maturity has not come as quickly as Williams and her Paramore band mates would have liked. However, it is a welcome addition. It is also vital for future success. Successful acts can adapt themselves and mature along with their core audience. Paramore is no exception to that rule.
That new found maturity is evident in the Franklin, Tennessee quintet’s third offering, “Brand New Eyes.” Williams penned all the lyrics for the album which shows a shift in the band’s philosophy.
Listening back to their first two offerings, “All We Know” and “Riot!,” you can tell that something changed in the time between albums. And this change is for the better.
The album, consisting of 11 songs, was produced by Rob Cavallo, who helped garner Paramore a Billboard top 5 with their song “Decode,” featured on the “Twilight” soundtrack. He has helped the band get a lot out of the band, something which seemed almost impossible at the start of the album making process. According to an online article, the band underwent pre-production without the assistance of a producer, something they had never done before.
Williams said this was “very stressful” and that they were on the verge of breaking up. The actual recording was “seen as therapy by the band.” Many of the lyrics for the album came from Williams’ frustration in the pre-production process. This is apparent in the song “Looking Up.” Lyrics like “God knows the world doesn’t need another band/But what a waste it would’ve been” showed that they almost split making the record.
Thankfully they didn’t, and the end result of all the turmoil was an album that shows strife is actually good for making a record. Williams put her emotions onto paper, which is a great way of relieving the stress. She and the band sound tighter than the first two records, the end result being their best musical effort to date.
The best example of Williams’ new found maturity is in the lyrics to “Playing God.” In the song, she talks about someone she knows who becomes too demanding. She says he would not let her make any decisions for herself, and that she needs him for everything she does in life. She then informs him sarcastically to “keep on cramming ideas down my throat.” She tells him that she is done with him and that his self-absorption will drive them further apart. This is her best written song to date, and may signal the maturity required to remain in the spotlight.
While most of the songs on “Brand New Eyes” follow the approach that made Paramore popular, there are a few songs where they try something different. On songs like “The Only Exception” and “Misguided Ghosts,” they demonstrate the ability to strip down and go acoustic. It is impressive when a band that is known for heavy beats and hooks can do a 360 strip down and still be compelling. This is very difficult and they are able to do it well. They recently played a handful of songs for MTV Unplugged, something that just furthers the opinion that these guys are talented musicians.
If past success is any indication, Paramore has many years remaining in their career. They have accomplished what many bands twice their age have never done. They have a platinum album (“Riot!”), a Grammy nomination, and many other awards throughout the music industry. While they kept the hooks and beats that made them successful in the past, their new found maturity may garner them even more fans. Only time will tell, but one thing is certain: growing up is hard, but has the potential to open new doors. In the lyrics for “Looking Up,” Williams sings, “I can’t believe we almost hung it up/We’re just getting started.”
Let’s all hope this is the case.
Tom Schatzman is a second-year English major with a minor in Journalism. He can be reached at TS716565@wcupa.edu.