‘This Is Why’ is Paramore at their fluid, creative best 

Jenessa Williams reacts to Paramore’s first new music in five years, and collates everything we know about the new era so far

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The joke often made in online pop-punk fanbases is that Paramore are a rare band who do no wrong. That’s somewhat simplifying things; over the years there have been splits, spats, the usual angst of growing up and getting on in the public eye. And yet it has never affected the quality of the music or the central heartfelt message of the remaining members. Heralded by mainstream pop fans while also deeply cherished by Black and LGBTQIA+ audiences who see them as genuine allies, Paramore’s core – Hayley Williams, Zac Farro and Taylor York – have endured the last two decades with a stamina and adversity-resistance that often feels quite profound. 

We’re all in our 30’s now…from late 2018 until today, and for the first time in my adult life, I’ve been able to spend consecutive days, months, years etc., at home,” wrote Williams this week, posting to the Discord community on the eve of their new era, affectionately nicknamed ‘6More’ by fans. “I know that I would not be ready to give myself back to the band and the music and the life that I love so much had we not voluntarily given it up for a season… tomorrow, we start again! – And yet really, we’re just picking up where we left off.” 

It may have been five years since Paramore released music as a band, but in their time away, they have arguably never been more popular. With ‘Good4U’, Olivia Rodrigo essentially sent them to the top of the charts; at Coachella, Williams’ performance of ‘Misery Business’ with Billie Eilish cemented her as the young foremother of a whole new generation of powerful, genre-melding artists. Like many other Paramore stans, I have been patiently counting the days, unravelling the cryptic clues. So much so, that I fortuitously ended up playing right into their hands…

As fate would have it, it turns out my small quip was more prophetic than I had realised. As rumoured, ‘This Is Why’ is indeed an ode to not leaving your house, frustrated by the fearsome cocktail of COVID and nuance-less news cycles that swirl outside. “It summarizes the plethora of ridiculous emotions, the rollercoaster of being alive in 2022, having survived even just the last 3 or 4 years.” Williams said in a statement. “You’d think after a global pandemic of fucking biblical proportions and the impending doom of a dying planet, that humans would have found it deep within themselves to be kinder or more empathetic or something.

As such, the song opens with playful-yet-direct pushback. “If you have an opinion/ Maybe you should shove it”, Williams offers. “Or maybe you could scream it/ Might be best to keep it?”. Capturing the jostling option of internet discourse, it swirls into sonic layers that are amongst the band’s most complex to date; a little bit Midwest emo, a little bit 60s new wave, but still inherently poppy and upbeat in the chorus — “This is why/we don’t leave the house/You say the coast is clear/But you won’t catch me out”. With its artwork of noses pressed against glass, it’s unmistakeably a claustrophobic quarantine-era song, but in taking the time to let the moment breathe, Paramore make it clear that they are not just trying to cash in on a zeitgeist. Rather, they are reflecting on the events of the last three years from the perspective of a band who have actually been at home long enough to observe them. It also doubles up as a general take on millennial introversion; which emo kid amongst us hasn’t threatened to go full hermit at least once? 

As Williams once famously noted, Paramore are not a pop-punk band; they are absolutely anything they want to be, at any given time. Across ten episodes of her recent BBC podcast ‘Everything Is Emo’, she planted an abundance of clues, so many that it became fun to imagine what was direct influence and what was mere red herring. But what stood out, time and time again, was the band’s affection for England, everything from Bloc Party to Yard Act to memories of specific UK venues that they had played in their early careers. On ‘This Is Why’, you get to hear those influences bloom; you can hear a hint of Wolf Alice’s ‘Giant Peach’ in the intro, the angst of Myspace era dance-punk in the chorus. As a band that has successfully shapeshifted from emo to power-pop to new wave, this affection for UK indie is a super-smart way to split their own difference, while still aiming for something new. 

Aesthetically, this maturity shows even further. The last time we saw Hayley was on ‘Petals For Armor‘, a layered, solo complex record that took significant nods from R&B. In some ways, ‘This Is Why’ feels cut from similar cloth, not least in the smooth, Solange-esque visuals. Directed by Brendan Yates (lead singer of Turnstile) the music video sees Paramore out in nature, quite literally touching grass in an attempt to reconnect with the world around them. When Williams scrawls lipstick across her face, she holds her genteel gaze, a dissociative character in a ‘this is fine’ burning meme. But when she falls, her bandmates are there to catch her, reminding the viewer that it is community that will keep us all afloat at the end of the world. 

At this stage, it seems clear that ‘This Is Why’ is borne out of a frustration with the world, rather than with each other. It marks the first time that Paramore have ever lead with a song that shares the album’s title; in recent interviews, they have explained that the record will take concern with widespread societal issues, building on the advocacy and education that they have harnessed in recent years.

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This is also their first album to be made by the same exact line-up as the previous one, a nod to their ever-strengthening stability as a three-piece unit. Inside the album sleeve is a motif of all three members interlocked, sporting matching suits. All three have been contributing in recent interviews, and in speaking with The Guardian, York and Williams have also confirmed long-established rumours of their romantic relationship (although understandably declined to comment further). Making good on the tiny crumbs of ‘evidence’ that could be found in Petals For Armor’s ‘Crystal Clear’ and ‘Taken’, it’s a gloriously sweet moment for Paramore fans, but also an emblem of the full-circle growth, care and personal equilibrium that awaits when you emerge from the emotional ringer of your tough twenties. 

With the promise of an intense few years of promotional activity ahead of them, this 6More train is set to continue, thriving from the time it took to take stock. With When We Were Young Festival just around the corner, a UK tour with special guests and rumours of a potential 2023 headline set at Reading & Leeds all up in the air, there are surely going to be a great many reasons for Para-stans to leave our houses. But for now, mark February 10 2023 in your diaries, and wipe away those emo tears; the world might still be a torrid mess, but in fanland, this drought is well and truly over. 

READ MORE: Every Paramore song (apart from this one) ranked in order of greatness