All eyes are on Paramore…their sophomore release, 2007’s “Riot!”, was a huge breakthrough for this rock band. Propelled by a string of radio-friendly hits the record went platinum, and their mix of emo and alternative rock was pleasing the ears of many teens (and quite a few adults, too). So expectations are running high – was “Riot!” a fluke or does Paramore really have what it takes to have a sustained career in this business?
I wasn’t too thrilled about the first two tracks, which include the current single, “Ignorance”, which I think is mediocre at best. But the CD’s midsection is very melodic and saves “Brand New Eyes” from going straight into my CD trading pile. “Playing God” has a great Jimmy Eat World vibe, while “Brick By Boring Brick” sounds like it could have been included on “Riot!”. “Turn It Off” is an excellent midtempo pop rocker while “The Only Exception” gives vocalist Haley Williams a chance to showcase her righteous chops with a decent power ballad. But she saves the best for last and delivers a chill-inducing performance on the album’s closer, “All I Wanted”.
I have mixed feelings about the production by Rob Cavallo, and often wonder if anyone with major label support does NOT have Chris Lord-Alge doing the mixing. It seems Cavallo was out to make Paramore sound like Shinedown, and while the volcano of sound is impressive, all too often it fails to let the CD breathe. Hayley Williams has a fantastic voice and I would have loved to hear it above the crashing guitars more often.
While a respectable successor with some terrific moments, “Brand New Eyes” doesn’t quite rise above “Riot!”, but I have a feeling we will be hearing plenty more from Paramore.
iPOD-worthy: 3, 4, 5, 6, 9, 11