The release of 2007's album 'Riot!' was the catalyst for Paramore to emerge from the emo-rock scene and become arena headliners - and their popularity wasn't just down to Hayley Williams' obvious physical appeal, but their ability to produce genre-leading tunes. The fairy-tale turned sour in 2010 with two noticeable incidents; the leaking of a private picture of the singer, but more crucially the departure of founding members Josh and Zac Farro. Taking their time to regroup as a trio, the outfit now return with the band's fourth record, four years after their last full release.
Whenever a band line-up changes the following release is more crucial as it has the added pressure of being compared to the previous incarnation of the act. With this in mind, it is understandable that Paramore took their time on this project and that it is self-titled would indicate a desire to re-establish themselves. Indeed, the turbulence of the last few years is addressed directly by Williams on the opening 'Fast In My Car', a mid-tempo affair with a relaxed riff, but hardly the gripping announcement that is required. The role is instead fulfilled by 'Now', possibly the heaviest sound in the band's catalogue, but what would have been a decent song is let down by an annoying hook. No qualifications are required to understand the feeling behind 'Grow Up' and it is as much a musical reference as it is a lyrical one. Targeted at arena crowds, it can be pictured providing respite in the middle of a set and a chance to hit the bar - filler in other words. The following 'Daydreaming' is much the same, a failed anthem with such a bland chorus that you wouldn't believe this was the same band who had written 'Brighter' or 'Crushcrushcrush'.
It is five tracks in that the first decent listen arrives and even then the acoustic 'Interlude: Moving On' is a short ditty. 'Ain't It fun' begins in a promising manner that swaggers with confidence, but the good work is undone with a conclusion that is simply horrendous: not one, but two gospel breakdowns of "don't go cryin' to ya mama" that are cringe worthy. 'Part II' is a step in a better direction and features an unrestrained instrumental section that works well, but it is 'Still Into You' that sees them dust off their box for killer tunes. More pop-orientated than previous successes, it has all the hallmarks of a hit and carries momentum to 'Anklebiters', a fun but forgettable moment. 'Proof' is a solid if unspectacular inclusion and the chiming 'Hate To See Your Heart Break' is promising evidence that the progressing maturity of the band can work in a more adult direction. It is the last of anything that could be described as a highlight though and the closing few tracks further characterise a record low on hooks, anthemic choruses or just plain excitement. It isn't just that followers of the band will be disappointed, there's little here for anyone else either in the 17 tracks that make for a bloated and self-indulgent release. Sensationalists might take this as an opportunity to write Paramore off or stoke the fires of the departure of the Farros - but only time will tell if this is the case. What can be said for now is that this is, aside from fleeting moments, a huge disappointment.