Album Alcove

This Is Why: A ticking bomb of pandemic frustration

Paramore returns from a five-year hiatus with their highly-anticipated sixth album, This Is Why, released on February 10, 2023. Classic punk and polished pop elements featured in their previous album After Laughter return, this time mixing in darker, punchier sounds as the band explores the pandemic’s lasting effects.

In a press release, Hayler Williams, the band’s frontwoman, explained that the first single “This Is Why” explores “the plethora of ridiculous emotions, the rollercoaster of being alive in 2022, having survived even just the last three or four years.” The song builds a groove with percussion, bass, and guitar that feels satisfyingly disjointed.

While the energetic chorus is undeniably “Paramore,” featuring catchy lines and infectious energy, Williams’ incredible vocals and punchy instrumentals clearly mark the start of a new era, kicking down the door to the rest of the album.

Next is “The News.” The biting guitar riffs feel like being woken up from the constant nightmare of the news: headlines describe endless disasters, and, as Williams said, “the common reaction, or non-reaction, seems to be dissociation.” 

The spoken bridge of the song includes lines such as “exploitative, performative, informative” and “rhetorical, deplorable, historical.” While it’s an interesting effort to describe the media’s perils, it feels more like a vocabulary game or disappointing attempt to mimic The 1975’s clever wordplay. The song is reminiscent of older Paramore, but lacks some of its spunk; perhaps the song’s weariness captures what it describes.

Every student can relate to Williams’ desire to be on time for once, expressed in “Running Out of Time.” She sings, “I hit the snooze on my alarm twenty times, but I was just so tired. There was traffic, spilled my coffee, crashed my car, otherwise woulda been here on time.” It’s the perfect track for racing to turn in an assignment, or (safely) rushing to homeroom.

“You First” and “Figure 8” feel like Paramore’s older music, returning to their punk-rock roots. These tracks are certified head-bangers, but they drag on exasperatingly with themes of induced self-preservation and endless spiraling.

“Crave,” the second-to-last track, also feels familiar, like a toned-back sibling of “Playing God” or “Decode,” two older Paramore songs. Zac Farro’s satisfying beat and Taylor York’s simmering guitar melodies perfectly blend with Williams’ voice.

“Liar” is a quiet track, the love song of the album. York’s wave-like guitar melody and Williams’ smooth voice glide over the chorus: “I lied to you, but you always knew the truth.” The track sounds like it was pulled from Williams’ recent solo album, Flowers For Vases / Descansos. It breaks away from the album’s devastation as a breath of fresh air before the last two tracks.

This is Why accurately describes the frustration of the last few years with intense catharsis and a consistent groove that ties each track together. Listening to the album feels like running a marathon dehydrated and fatigued, then collapsing at the end. 


Rating: 6/10

Favorite: Crave/Running Out of Time

Would Recommend: This Is Why