It’s been six long years since Paramore released an album. Since 2017’s After Laughter, Paramore and the whole world have changed drastically. After a global pandemic and frontwoman Hayley Williams’ nasty divorce, This Is Why is the band’s statement on the new world and Williams’ anxieties surrounding it.
The album opens with the guitar-driven title track, a song about social isolation. Williams has talked about her depression and anxiety in the past, and in the chorus, she sings of her hesitation to re-enter social spaces even after COVID restrictions have been lifted: “This is why I don’t leave the house / You say the coast is clear / But you won’t catch me out.” The song’s comparatively modest production contrasts sharply with the band’s pop-rock hits like “Still Into You” and “Hard Times.”
“The News” is a post-punk song that balances the heavy instrumentation of the refrain with more stripped-down production of the pre-chorus. Lyrically, the song is about something we’re all too familiar with: the never-ending stream of despair in the news cycle.
In a recent Genius video, Williams talked at greater length about her experience during the pandemic. During lockdown, her anxiety worsened. “Running Out Of Time” captures the frustrating experience of not getting around to what you planned to do. The song features relatable lyrics like “Never mind, I hit the snooze on my alarm twenty times / But I was just so tired.” The next time I’m up at 3 a.m. working on a problem set, I’ll find solace knowing that Hayley Williams also struggles with time management.
This Is Why perfectly captures the experience of living in a post-pandemic world. It’s an apt rebirth for a band as legendary as Paramore. Over the album’s 36 minutes, Paramore delves into different subgenres of rock, ranging from indie to more radio-friendly pop-rock. Hayley Williams provides the angelic vocals, relatable lyrics, and social commentary; her bandmates Taylor York and Zac Farro provide groovy guitar riffs and catchy drum patterns that give the music a sense of movement. Paramore is back with a vengeance.