REVIEW: Paramore’s “This is Why” Is an Array of Liminal Spaces

Featured Photo Credit: Zachary Gray

Following a string of three energetic singles, Paramore’s highly anticipated sixth studio album This is Why has arrived via Atlantic Records. The album’s first single, also the title track, earned the band their first #1 on Alternative Radio. In celebration of the beloved band’s first full-length release since 2017, they partnered with record stores around the world to present Global Listening Events during last week, treating fans to an early listening experience. The band recently performed their latest single, “Running Out of Time” on Jimmy Kimmel Live February 14. 

This is Why exists in spaces where retrospect is both the weapon you use and the weapon that is being used against you; where optimism is careful and guarded in anticipating what is to come; and where the musical progression of a band is diversified by its members’ individuality. These are liminal spaces where you are no longer in danger but do not yet feel safe; where you can no longer rely on ignorance yet the lessons seem entirely unfeasible: “I know that regression is rarely rewarded / I still need a certain degree of disorder,” frontwoman Hayley Williams intones on “C’est Comme Ça,” the album’s third single.

The throughline of getting continually beaten down by life and trudging forward through each and every one of its onslaughts anyway, and of wearing your wounds like artwork, is expressed wryly in both the lyrics and instrumentation. It is resigning to use your vulnerability as a shield, and still somehow managing to be a little shocked when you keep getting hit.

“Hit over the head, epiphany / Over my head, repeatedly / Thick skull never did nothin’ for me / Same lesson again? Come on, give it to me.” – “Thick Skull, (Track 10)” 

This is Why also occupies a liminal space in Paramore’s own arsenal. Remnants of Williams’ solo work zip through this album, especially when the songs lean more acoustic, but her vocal style frequently recalls tracks from Petals For Armor (2020), her impressive solo debut, which guitarist Taylor York produced, and for which drummer Zac Farro contributed percussion on the tracks “Watch Me While I Bloom” and “Crystal Clear”. Farro’s own synth-leaning, indie pop project HalfNoise, together with Williams’ clever integration of her own style and York’s guitar work coming to the forefront clearer than ever before, all see Paramore’s newest album achieve a streamlined effect of its members’ combined efforts.

There is frequently rueful examination of participation in our climate both socially and socio-politically, as the band weighs the micro and macro lessons we experience on an individual level, as in “Big Man, Little Dignity,” and on a global scale, as in the frenetic second single “The News.” It’s not a return to their roots so much as plucking many of those roots up and propagating them into a new environment. The earliest iteration of Paramore began as a funk cover band (called “The Factory,” in case you were curious), so it is very unsurprising, especially following the musical pivot in After Laughter, that the funk-lite has returned and is likely here to stay. 

Many of the verses evoke moments that are tamer, but still winding and ever inquisitive, and where the drums are often spirited but demure, making the choruses feel even more urgent to shout along to, especially in “Crave” and “You First.” It feels reductive to call this album “plucky,” but it begrudgingly still resonates. Against all the offenses there remains determination, and even though the emotional naivete briefly disarms (as in “Liar” and “Figure 8”), it once again conveys an unpolished rawness that is one of the hallmarks of Paramore’s music. 

The last track (“Thick Skull”) was the first track written for the record, according to Williams, while the first track (title track “This Is Why”) was written last. It evokes a cyclical technique in the album’s composition: experiencing your feelings; writing them down; synthesizing them for an audience (without sacrificing themselves for palatability); coming to a resolute summation, and then repurposing that finality as an introduction, allowing brand new feelings to be anticipated.

After headlining a special hometown album release show at the Opry in Nashville, Paramore will join Taylor Swift on the opening nights of her Eras Tour in Glendale, Arizona on March 17th and 18th. The spring sees Paramore embark on their own global tour in support of This is Why, beginning with stops in South America in early March, followed by a UK run in April, and an extended North American leg starting in May. 

They will have support from Bloc Party, Foals, the Linda Lindas, and Genesis Owusu, and will headline some of their largest arena shows to date at some of the most iconic music venues in the world. They will be donating a portion of their ticket sales to organizations working for essential community support, including Support & Feed, and REVERB.

With the release of their brisk and eclectic 2017 album After Laughter, the Grammy-winning, multi-Platinum band have incorporated fresh styles into their repertoire, and the age of streaming continues to organically propel Paramore into position as one of the world’s most culturally compelling rock bands. Their nearly 20-year trajectory, from a group of punk teens from Tennessee into bona-fide pop culture mainstays, resonates in the broader musical landscape by inspiring new generations of musical talent across multiple genres, and encouraging them to defy the rules. 


Thu March 2 – Lima District, Perú – Estadio UNMSM

Sun March 5 – Santiago, Chile – Movistar Arena

Tue March 7 – Buenos Aires, Argentina – Arena Movistar

Thu March 9 – Rio De Janeiro, Brazil – Qualistage

Sat March 11 – São Paulo, Brazil – Centro Esportivo Tietê

Sun March 12 – São Paulo, Brazil – Centro Esportivo Tietê

Tue March 14 – Bogotá, Colombia – Movistar Arena

Fri March 17 – Glendale, AZ – State Farm Stadium (=)

Sat March 18 – Glendale, AZ – State Farm Stadium (=)

Thu April 13 – Dublin, Ireland – 3Arena

Sat April 15 – Cardiff, United Kingdom – International Arena

Mon April 17 – Glasgow, United Kingdom – OVO Hydro

Tue April 18 – Manchester, United Kingdom – AO Arena

Thu April 20 – London, United Kingdom – O2 Arena

Sat April 22 – Birmingham, United Kingdom – Utilita Arena

Sun April 23 – London, United Kingdom – O2 Arena

Tue May 23 – Charlotte, NC – Spectrum Center (*~)

Thu May 25 – Atlanta, GA – State Farm Arena (*~)

Sat May 27 – Atlantic City, NJ – Adjacent Festival (+)

Sun May 28 – Boston, MA – Boston Calling (+)

Tue May 30 – New York, NY – Madison Square Garden (*~)

Wed May 31 – New York, NY – Madison Square Garden (*~)

Fri June 02 – Washington, DC – Capital One Arena (*~)

Sun Jun 04 – Cleveland, OH – Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse (*~)

Mon Jun 05 – Indianapolis, IN – Gainbridge Fieldhouse (*~)

Wed Jun 07 – Detroit, MI – Little Caesars Arena (*~)

Thu Jun 08 – Toronto, ON – Scotiabank Arena (*~)

Sat Jun 10 – Columbus, OH – Schottenstein Center (*~)

Sun Jun 11 – Pittsburgh, PA – PPG Paint Arena (*~)

Tue Jun 13 – Orlando, FL – Amway Center (*~)

Wed Jun 14 – Hollywood, FL – Hard Rock Live (*~)

Sun Jun 18 – Nashville, TN – Bonnaroo (+)

Thu Jul 06 – New Orleans, LA – Smoothie King Center (^!)

Sat Jul 08 – Fort Worth, TX – Dickies Arena (^!)

Sun Jul 09 – Austin, TX – Moody Center (^!)

Tue Jul 11 – Houston, TX – Toyota Center (^!)

Thu Jul 13 – Denver, CO – Ball Arena (^!)

Sun Jul 16 – San Diego, CA – Viejas Arena (^)

Wed Jul 19 – Los Angeles, CA – Kia Forum (^)

Wed Jul 20 – Los Angeles, CA – Kia Forum (^)

Sat Jul 22 – San Francisco, CA – Chase Center (^)

Mon Jul 24 – Seattle, WA – Climate Pledge Arena (^!)

Tue Jul 25 – Portland, OR – Veterans Memorial Coliseum (^!)

Thu Jul 27 – Salt Lake City, UT – Vivint Arena (^!)

Sat Jul 29 – Tulsa, OK – BOK Center (^!)

Sun Jul 30 – St Louis, MO – Enterprise Center (^!)

Wed Aug 02 – St. Paul, MN – Xcel Energy Center (^!)

*With Support from Bloc Party

^ – With Support from Foals

! – With Support from The Linda Lindas

~ – With Support from Genesis Owusu

= – Supporting Taylor Swift

+ – Festival Performance

Tickets for Paramore


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