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Paramore – Riot! Review

An apt title for the softcore emo anthems of the mid-2000s, and that is where Paramore found themselves. Did they traipse back there a little with their recent release? Maybe so. But Riot! is its own beast, a rare explosion which saw the rocking four-piece (now trio) push the envelope of a genre disregarded. A decade and a half on from its release and Paramore, and their listeners, came full circle with This Is Why. Not quite the roots they first held, but a nod to their relevancy and especially the potent charm of Misery Business and those surrounding, harsh hits. Attached to the times it released in, but far bigger than 2007 could ever wish to be. Riot! is a pop-ready collection of tracks which skirt the style of emo, using those heavy Josh Farro guitar spots to tie itself to the mood. 

What a success it is, and it can be heard in opening track For a Pessimist, I’m Pretty Optimistic best of all. A clear binary opposite in the title, a launchpad for easing listeners into the sharp and bitter lyrics of Hayley Williams. Wearing their influences on their sleeves (their acoustic cover of Foo Fighters hit My Hero should not go unlistened), Paramore present a powerful, loud and boisterous piece filled with hits. Longevity of this type comes from those well-remembered classics which hit clubs for generations to come. That’s What You Get is always the mark of a great night out. Either that or a tragic night in. Most of it comes not from the style or specifics of the time but from the necessity of the language Williams deploys, the heartbreak washed over by slick guitar work and heavy percussion expertise. 

Keeping the pace with Hallelujah, not to be confused with the tonally different Leonard Cohen track, is the work Farro provides consistently. Those riffs and solos which combine to make ultimately wild and riotous experiences are difficult to maintain but constant throughout this second Paramore album. Anyone who dyed their hair, pierced their nose or listened to The Hoosiers is probably aware of Misery Business, and so too are those who ended their days wearing beige trenchcoats and eating Tesco pizza. Such is the wheel of life and Riot! has been a constant accompaniment, steering itself through steely rebellions of the soulful and heartfelt variety. Williams wages war against the lack of second chances, the desire to reinvent and she does the latter time and time again with her ranged and evocative lyrics. Glued eyes and taped mouths on crushcrushcrush see Paramore hit a rich vein of romanticised and painful lyrics which paint the vivid picture Williams was aiming for. 

Parts of Riot! suffer from its own inspiration. Williams’ desire to write down and expand those thoughts which come in a thick and fast flurry of rage is sometimes lost to the bigger picture. That’s what you get when you let your heart win, after all. Truthful and honest in its intention, Riot! is still the powerful piece it was on release all those years ago, although now it has time to mature into not just a biting and structured piece of emo-pop, but a broader look into instrumental necessities which went on to inspire those who follow in Paramore’s footsteps. Few are finding their way to the same heights Paramore rightly enjoys, but those pursuing it have big shoes to fill when Riot! is remembered.  

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Ewan Gleadow
Ewan Gleadow
Editor in Chief at Cult Following | News and culture journalist at Clapper, Daily Star, NewcastleWorld, Daily Mirror | Podcast host of (Don't) Listen to This | Disaster magnet

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