3D Great Rock Bible
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When you sound like a fusion of punk-y popsters, P!NK, AVRIL LAVIGNE and latter-day NO DOUBT, it’s hardly improbable that you’ll fail to make it big among the emo-friendly world of pop-rock. Spearheaded by the colourful Hayley Williams, a pint-sized powerhouse groomed to be a solo singer since her early teenage years, PARAMORE have now, unsurprisingly, amassed astronomical sales, baffling the critics and the older-than-thirty generation.
Formed 2004 in Franklin, Tennessee, when 15-year-old Hayley – wanting to rock rather than roll over to her pop masters at Atlantic Records – persuaded the people-in-the-know to let her form a band. Teen brothers Josh and drummer Zac Farro were drafted in (the former her guitar foil and songwriting partner), along with second guitarist Jason Bynum and short-stop bassist, Jeremy Davis.
Licenced out by Atlantic to Florida-based emo-orientated imprint, Fueled By Ramen, the quartet (without 20-year-old Davis in the pack), unleashed their first instalment of power-pop, ALL WE KNOW IS FALLING (2005) {*6}. A promising start to their/her pop ascendency, focal-point rock chick Hayley let her red-dyed hair down a tad, while cohorts Josh, Zac and Jason let rip the riffs and rhythms on the set’s best but derivative cuts such as `All We Know’, `Pressure’ and `Emergency’. By the time of its release into the lower regions of the UK charts the following spring, Davis was back in tow, while Bynum has made way for Hunter Lamb; the latter lasted only just over a year when he left to get married early ’07.
Boosted by glowing reviews on their subsequent Warped Tours, PARAMORE strived to carve out a niche in a gap left in the market by bubblegum teeny-bopper, AVRIL LAVIGNE. 2007’s transatlantic Top 30 breaker, RIOT! {*7}, marked the rebellious Williams’ entrance as a bona fide representative for rock’s anti-X-Factor brigade, while the chugging, FALL OUT BOY-meets-JIMMY EAT WORLD-styled emo-angst of her backing boys, gave tracks like `For A Pessimist, I’m Pretty Optimistic’, plus breakthrough hits `Misery Business’, `That’s What You Get’ and `CrushCrushCrush’, the edge; B-side covers included: `My Hero’ (FOO FIGHTERS) and `Sunday Bloody Sunday’ (U2).
Tour jaunts with idols JIMMY EAT WORLD and NO DOUBT were only topped by their invitation to contribute a couple of items to Hayley’s movie-flick fix, Twilight; the exclusive track `Decode’ climbed into the Top 40, while the rather unnecessary but obligatory concert CD/DVD package, THE FINAL RIOT! (2008) {*6}, left some fans with holes in the pockets. A bandmate of the brothers Farro several years previously, Taylor York, fitting into the fold, at first as a touring support, then as a full-time member.
Rumours of a split within the ranks were put to one side, at least for the time being, when studio album number three, BRAND NEW EYES (2009) {*7}, crashed into the Top 3, while in the equally fascinated UK, it topped the charts. `Brick By Boring Brick’, `The Only Exception’ and the soft-ish `Ignorance’ were the pick of the bunch, while the anguished assaults came through download hits, `Careful’ and `Ignorance’.
The final straw for a band that was increasingly uneasy with their newfound glory, was when Hayley side-lined her activities with a guest spot vocal contribution to hip-hop B.o.B.’s near chart-topping, `Airplanes’; a messy exit for the co-founding Farro brothers came towards the end of 2010, leaving the astute Williams and the remaining members (Davis and York) to adhere to a sympathetic and well-thought-out contract.
Following on from a series of hits, including `Monster’ from the Transformers: Dark Of The Moon OST (from 2011), the eponymous PARAMORE (2013) {*8} – produced by Justin Meldal-Johnsen – crystalized the ballsy, GWEN STEFANI/P!NK-like approach of the now 24-year-old superstar, Hayley. Although emo-rock in formula, one could forgive the trio – with LOSTPROPHETS drummer Ilan Rubin as fill-in 4th member – for bowing to the industry of pop for the likes of the poignant `Grow Up’, `Daydreaming’, the funky `Ain’t It Fun’ and some interlude ditties. For unlikely readers of patrons Kerrang!, there was something to compensate the loss of the Farro’s in rockers `Fast In My Car’, `Now’ and the punky `Anklebiters’.
For 2017’s long-awaited AFTER LAUGHTER {*7}, Hayley and Taylor reunited with Zac Farro (Jeremy was said to be miffed about his royalty cut). However, four years in the making, PARAMORE’s sugary Emo-pop had not quite grown up in keeping with their older fanbase and, as a result, the trio now struggled to crack a Top 3 slot. PARAMORE or “Para-less”, their infectious day-glo buoyancy was pleasing to the ear – for some, although the euphoria ultimately rested with the subdued and cloudy `Fake Happy’, `26’ and `Tell Me How’; the three tracks night and day to the sparkling and bubbly `Hard Times’, `Told You So’, `Grudges’ and so on.
© MC Strong/MCS Apr2013-May2017

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