Too many successful bands have forgotten that there’s more to rock than chugging power chords and angst-ridden vocals.While Paramore plays as loud and heavy as its more established peers, the young Tennessee quartet tempers its pop-punk noise with sophisticated, textured songwriting — it didn’t earn a Best New Artist Grammy nomination in 2008 for nothing. Plus, last week they won mtvU’s Woodie of the Year award (the show broadcasts next week). And with two new songs from the “Twilight” soundtrack, the band brings its sound even further.
Led by flame-haired frontwoman Hayley Williams, Paramore broke through with 2007’s “Riot!”, a collection of rapid-fire rock anthems full of drum breaks, guitar interludes and alternately pretty and powerful melodies from the big-voiced Hayley. Unlike many of the sludgy songs on rock radio, tracks like hit single “That’s What You Get” couldn’t have been written in the studio in an afternoon — there’s too much going on, from the cleverly double-tracked vocals to the watery guitar chords that splash under the bridge. But the attention to detail doesn’t distract from the band’s peppy punk, which features relatable tales of adolescent angst with optimistic endings.
Their latest singles come from the “Twilight” soundtrack, which currently sits atop the Billboard 200. The vampire love story is the perfect muse for Paramore’s romantic rock. “How can I decide what’s right when you’re clouding up my mind?” Hayley sings on “Decode,” the soundtrack’s first single. The track finds the band maturing their sound with gentler guitar tones and a patient melody, until the pace picks up two minutes in and a guitar solo drives the song home.
Similarly, on “I Caught Myself,” Hayley sings, “I’m saying something that I should have never thought of you… I don’t know what I want,” mirroring Bella’s mixed feelings for Edward, and continues, “I know in my heart it’s not you.” But it’s one thing to say you’re giving up on love and another to sing about it, and “I Caught Myself” trembles with emotion, starting off soft and finishing with banging chords.
Though the band has written the soundtrack to a tale of teen romance — much like the real-life stories they’ve set to song — Paramore sounds like it’s growing up fast. With headlining tours and top festival stops behind them, the group has developed a fan base that will follow it anywhere, and I can’t wait to see where they go next.