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Paramore – Riot!

Riot! is a good album for Paramore, the songs are a little tighter than All We Know Is Falling, and it goes a long way in solidifying the band as a positive outfit in the current pop-rock landscape.

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“Young” and “vibrant” are perhaps the two best words to use when describing barely-out-of-their-teens pop rock act Paramore. Having caught the masses’ attention with 2005’s All We Know Is Falling, the Fueled By Ramen quartet have come barreling through the gates with the follow-up Riot! (with extra emphasis). Energy is by no means in short supply either, as opening track “For a Pessimist, I’m Pretty Optimistic” is riff-heavy, and extremely bouncy- with crush-worthy vocalist Hayley Williams making it clear her voice will undoubtedly be one of the album’s highlights.

Musically, they tread similar ground to their previous efforts; melodic, guitar-driven pop rock not too dissimilar from labelmates Cute is What We Aim For and Panic! At the Disco. Songs like “Hallelujah” and the single, “Misery Business,” are equal parts bouncy, as they are sugary sweet and youthful. The latter being the album’s up-and-go ode to The Go-Go’s by way of Banarama as they slip past Blondie. It’s a fun track, and while not all that interested in being too in-depth, is sure to kick start any lagging party. The album’s strongest effort is probably the closer, “Born For This,” which nixes Riot!’s slower moments for more up-tempo, sing-a-long punk rock tones that proves Paramore isn’t all sugar, sweet, and everything neat.

Unfortunately, not all of the album is as vital as its closer. Songs like “When It Rains” plays closer to mid-90s No Doubt with its broken hearted, mid-paced melodrama, while “Crushcrushcrush” sounds a little too much like something that would fit nicely over the opening credits of a Nickelodeon show. The piano-led balladry of “We Are Broken” is a nice example of youthful catharsis, but as expected, more advanced musical tastes will cringe at the tooth-decaying sweetness of it … all very clean, and beaming with high-production gloss and little rawness.

Riot! is a good album for Paramore, the songs are a little tighter than All We Know Is Falling, and it goes a long way in solidifying the band as a positive outfit in the current pop-rock landscape of hacks, has-beens, and never-shoulda-beens. There is plenty to like here, and younger audiences weaned on the Ashley Simpson-brand of rock music will enjoy what’s on offer. It’s not going anywhere near what the title implies (unless of course your brand of rebellion starts and ends of Avril Lavigne), but it has a good time getting there.

(Fueled by Ramen)

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Hatchie – Keepsake

Keepsake, the debut album by Brisbane dream pop artist Hatchie is musical luminescence that can only be described as music written for the stars

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Hatchie Keepsake

Brisbane indie-pop artist Hatchie (known to her friends and family as Harriette Pilbeam) is in the envious position of being a pop artist unspoiled by the many trappings of what it is to be a modern pop artist. Unlike some of her contemporaries who craft music by committee or with Sheeran-like self-importance, Hatchie is as of now, unsullied by the pressures of the cookie-cutter pop machine. Hatchie’s debut full length is a showcase for a talent who is supremely confident and composed in her abilities, and Keepsake is musical luminescence that can only be described as music written for the stars. The album is also a wonderful throwback to pop’s dreamy 60s influences that shuffle in and out of this delirium while working alongside distinctly more current musical touches.

There is the lush dream pop sounds of “Without a Blush”, taking cues from the best of what Stars and Goldfrapp conjure but heaping a tonne of Pilbeam’s charisma on it. Like her vocals, “Without a Blush” has this elegance that has the ability to elevate songs from being beautiful to grand. It is the kind of vocal elegance that really shines through on songs like the skittering, beat-driven “Obsessed” and the alternative, guitar-fuelled (yay!) “When I Get Out”. Indie/electronic closer “Keep” is a wonderful end to proceedings.

However, the great strength of Keepsake is not just its composure in how all the songs have been put together. It is also this genuine, natural-sounding quality that permeates the album- nothing overly written, overly produced or put together by research groups or music analysts. It just sounds like talent. We can argue that much of pop music is constructed to appease the moment- designed to grab as much attention as possible in an A.D.D. world. And sure, that can be said about almost any kind of music, but the resulting aural tone of Keepsake is anything but transient or transparent.

The best way to combat tepid chart-topping music is to write better pop songs. Songs like “Her Own Heart” and the disco-toned “Stay” are examples of pop music that come across as timeless. We are moved by the songs found on Keepsake when we listen to them today. And I suspect that in 10 years time, or in 20, we will most likely feel the same. It is rare to find the sort of ageless beauty you find on Keepsake.

(Heavenly Recordings)

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