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Music Review: Paramore – Brand New Eyes

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It seems that many people in this world — the ones that at least halfway appreciate music, that is — have their own personal soundtrack: an album that the listener feels expresses them best. A personal soundtrack is, of course, subject to change without notice — especially with age.

A few years back, every moody teenage girl and her brother were clinging to the works of Evanescence. Shortly thereafter, Evanescence became the fad of yesterday. The younger generation who once regarded them as godlike started to grow up. The personal soundtrack needed a makeover.

Flash-forward a couple of years. A figure of towering godliness to Emo kids everywhere, Paramore has blasted their way to the top of the charts since the release of their second album, Riot! in 2007 — a release that went Platinum in the US and Gold in the UK, Ireland, and New Zealand.

MTV actually went as far as to not broadcast their lame Reality Shows in order to promote the band (they might have even aired a music video or two, but that’s entirely implausible and hard to prove). And then, the prominent inclusion of their moody-yet-powerful single, “Decode,” on the motion picture soundtrack of Twilight practically instilled them as a household name. And thus, Paramore albums started to become the average youth’s choice for a personal soundtrack.

So, how does the band’s third album, Brand New Eyes, hold up? Not well, in my opinion. Of course, I’m not a teenager anymore, either, so that might have something to do with it.

Fortunately, though, the album is not a complete bust. In fact, it kicks off like a motherfucker. A dynamic ditty by the name of “Careful” opens the album up, which is in-turn followed by the hit single, “Ignorance.” And then comes “Playing God,” a song that has the right feel, the right sound — the right lyrics, even — yet it doesn’t manage to pull its own self off very well. Two more better-than-average tracks, “Brick By Boring Brick” and “Turn It Off,” give the illusion that the album is moving along quite fantastically.

And that’s when the whole thing falls apart, as six very unmemorable and fairly unmotivated tracks crash the album like a pair of pretentious wannabes at an art show. The worst of these tracks by far would be “Misguided Ghosts,” an acoustic track that really shows you how even a Gold-selling group can generate a little Pyrite now and again (for you Grade-Z schlockumentary film lovers, think of The Amazing World Of Ghosts as a song).

Finally, Brand New Eyes manages to redeem itself ever-so-slightly with the show-stopping grand finale, “All I Wanted.” The last track really gives Paramore’s lead, young Hayley Williams, a chance to show how she has grown in terms of both her age (she was only 16 when the band’s first album hit stores) as well as her vocal ability, which is stronger than ever.

Yes, a personal soundtrack can change without notice. It can depend on your mood, your job, your social status even.

But most likely, your age may have something to do with it. Brand New Eyes will probably not replace your present personal soundtrack for any reason — unless you’re a teenager (and most likely female at that) and you sense that Hayley’s lyrics are reaching out to you and you alone (for me, it was Pink Floyd's The Wall and Chess — but that’s another story entirely).

As much as I like some of what Paramore has to offer (and I really, honestly, sincerely do), I cannot help but wonder if they will be another in the long line of fads. It would be a pity if they were, especially since they have mad some memorable contributions to the industry. In the case of Brand New Eyes however, there are only a few contributions gathered here worth listening to. If you’re looking for a new personal soundtrack, just borrow a few songs from this album and mix up a compilation.

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About Luigi Bastardo

Luigi Bastardo is the disgruntled alter-ego of a thirtysomething lad from Northern California who has watched so many weird movies since the tender age of 3 that a conventional life is out of the question. He currently lives in Chico, CA with four cats named Groucho, Harpo, Chico, and Margaret. Seriously.
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  • Ophelia

    ya you obviously hav NO idea what ur on about.firstly they’re nt emo.2ndly im not a big fan of evanescence bt they arent gone.in fact they’re makin a comeback.n last,their album has everytin:energetic,powerful songs n slower,beautiful,touching songs.n paramore is the best band since the beatles and such.ur obviously in2 ta likes of lady gaga n all tat shit who sing about shit n sound like shit live.

  • I’m not entirely sure, but I think a teenager just tried to insult me.

  • 02

    i personally love misguided ghost, and you know what, few of my friend do too. have you even done your research before writing this review of their new album? from what i read there are nothing but negative common. you wrote this review u will be subjected to criticism, live with it dude don’t go hating people who read ur stuff.

    and yes, Ophelia, Paramore sounds amazing live and CD unlike any other band, so big++++ …some band just can’t sing live… did i say some? i meant most.

  • Thanks for the comment, O2 — it’s always nice to see other points of view on here, regardless of how much they may criticize our writers or their material (which doesn’t bother me — it goes with the territory when you voice an opinion). Rest assured that I do not “hate” people for reading my articles — that would just be a very silly thing to do. 🙂

  • E.G.

    I am not a teen, but I did suffer from depression and i understand the feelings that Hayley writes about in Misguided Ghosts. Talking about feeling that there is no place to go and having people reject you for what you are. Everyone that conforms is willing to overlook the misfortune of others, but it is real for people who understand.

  • DadadadaAlice

    To be fair I think it is only natural that an artist should connect with people who share the same experiences, and therefore similar feelings. So isn’t it natural that Paramore should connect with teenagers (especially girls, given Hayley Williams’ idol status)? And as E.G. mentioned, some songs don’t have to be age specific, for example Franklin, which is about feeling a stranger in your own town. If Hayley wants to write about a painful experience with a slut in high school (Misery Business) then that is her own perogative, the fact that kids who go through similar things connect with that song should not mean that others feel excluded.

  • Kevin Mesch

    Well you obviously should have waited. Because The UK, Ireland, and Australia all say something different. I’m sure pretty soon America is going to say something different than that. Besides the true fans are the ones who stayed after Riot was all over, they listened to Brand New Eyes, and they listen to the EP’s, and Covers. True fans like me.