Franklin, Tenn., which some consider the home of country music, has small town restaurants, fewer than 50,000 people and the rock world’s most successful female fronted band since No Doubt.
A little more than two years since the release of “RIOT!,” Paramore emerges back onto the pop-rock scene with “Brand New Eyes”, an album that, despite rumors of a band breakup, displays nothing but melodic maturity and a taste for success well handled.
The third studio from the quintet showcases a harder, more cynical side of the band with heavy guitar licks and head slamming drums sure to throw some listeners for a loop. However, the album also incorporates a new crowd into the fan base.
The first single off the album “Ignorance” is a slap in the face to everyone who expected the band to be pop ruled for its entire career. The intro to the song is disturbing and angst-filled enough to swear one was listening to a metal band. Singer Hayley Williams moves away from singing on the track to a more melodic speaking with a slightly raspier voice.
“Playing God” flaunts the lyrical craftiness of the band, singing about more than popular high school girls with lines like, “Next time you point a finger, I’ll point you to the mirror.” The song drops a few religious references, but not enough to warrant dubbing the band religion-first.
“Brick By Boring Brick,” a more than four minute opus of crafty key changes and melodic variety, shows the development of the band as they have grown older and become more centered in where it is going in its career.
The oddball on the album, “Misguided Ghosts,” is a softer song with a Simon and Garfunkel feel to it. It is the only song that comes even close to being a let down. The guitars are mixed with enough reverb to make Explosions In The Sky jealous, and Williams’ vocal contributions are mixed in such a way that they stand out too much throughout the entire song.
Whether or not listeners can get used to a more mature Hayley Williams and company, “Brand New Eyes,” is a step in a promising direction, which seems to the right prescription for a band that seems to be getting better with age.
Music reviewer Ian Mahan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.