Branching out and trying new things is good, scary fun. This is true. So I always tip a hat to artists when they try to at least go one step above their previous work, because life is much to short to do banal and dry crap. Today's hat tip goes to Paramore who on their fourth and latest self-titled release have done quite a few chameleon-ish things, taking them quite beyond the punk-rock sound that helped them burst into the scene back in 2005. For the lengthy 17-track album, Paramore, the Tennessee bred band (who are now whittled down to three members) dip their toes in new waters, seeing if things are warm enough. They don't go fully off the diving board, as they are still as rowdy with singles, "Now" and "Still Into You" picking up steam, but the album as a whole features little vignettes into various genres and styles. A little Electronica here ("Fast In My Car"), some Stevie Nicks'-inspired poetics there ("Hate To See Your Heart Break"), stomps of No Doubt above ("Grow Up"), abstract and mighty prog-rock ("Future") that colors vividly outside the circle, and a bushel of it is coated with synth-Pop that is candy sweet --- all of it ambitious and hard to pass over. They even throw in some ukulele at one point, because, hell, why not? Making music should be fun.
I will be honest. I haven't listened to the group since their 2007 album, Riot!,which included such great nu-punk snapshots like "Misery Business" and "CrushCrushCrush", but became re-acquainted after "Ain't It Fun" invaded my ears. It's literally the funkiest thing that the group has done as it bounces on exuberant guitars and synths, and just shows out and strikes all kinds of poses. An instant stand-out (and should-be-next-single) it is thanks to a Gospel choir that keep up the rousing pace and lead vocalist, Haley Williams who is really raising some serious cane with that great soaring voice of hers. Don't be surprised when "Ain't It Fun" shows up in the top tier of my end-of-the-year list this year --- yes, I'm that much in love with it.
As you can tell, change can be a good thing, and Paramore proves that their turning point really is something worth seizing and is a rather bold step towards the beginning of a new era.