Sun Sentinel Palm Beach Edition
Band’s comeback nears perfection
Paramore is the poppunk band of people’s lives. Nostalgia is wrapped around the band’s identity, but the members never allow it to overshadow the music. In their sixth studio album, “This Is Why,” the musicians get angrier, pricklier and funkier, all the while merging the band’s past and future, levitating way beyond its icon status to something else entirely.
The band formed in Nashville, Tennessee, in 2004 when lead singer Hayley Williams, guitarist Taylor York and drummer Zac Farro were teens. They have been together for nearly two decades, and in their first album in five years, their comfortability and cohesion are fully on display in the almost perfectly composed 10-song record.
Their lead single, which doubles as the album’s title, “This Is Why,” is an encapsulation of Williams’ self-aware, political and intimate songwriting that is present throughout this album. Crisp and sometimes even messy production and instrumentation from York and Farro equally match Williams’ divine vocals.
Williams questions power structures in a funky, rhythmic cautionary tale of the entertainment business (“Big Man Little Dignity”). “The News,” a post-punk song brimming with empathy and anger with pristine production, analyzes the toll the endless 24-hour news cycle has on humanity. “Running Out of Time” a heavy-hitting soon-to-be classic Paramore favorite examines millennial dread and anxiety.
In “Figure 8,” Paramore sounds the closest to the members’ oldest 2000s teenage selves with weighty spinning guitar riffs and drums pounding in sync, with Williams singing self-loathingly, “All for your sake/ Become the very thing I hate/ I lost my way/ Spinning in an endless figure eight.”
The album closes out with a gorgeous trio of songs, “Liar,” “Crave” and “Thick Skull.”
“Liar” allows Williams to take a step back and authentically admit her self-disruptive tendencies in a lyrical ballad that cuts and bruises.
Her breathy, heavenly vocals and snare drums from Farro fade into “Crave,” another love song where she admits, “I romanticize even the worst of times/ When all it took to make me cry was being alive.”
“Thick Skull” is a song only Paramore can make. It’s dark and introspective. It has its quiet moments, but it grows and grows into a cathartic burst of Williams, York and Farro converging at once to create what is a satisfying close to a masterful evolutionary display of musicianship and teamwork. — Nardos Haile, Associated Press
Brad Mehldau and the
Beatles make a captivating jazz combo. It helps that Mehldau’s piano stylings have a range worthy of the Fab Four. He bridges the divides between Debussy and Professor Longhair, between rock and Rachmaninoff — his rhythms tipsy at times as he evokes saloon music and comic opera.
And that’s just on a 6 ½-minute rendition of “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer,” one of the 11 tunes on his new live solo album, “Your Mother Should Know: Brad Mehldau Plays the Beatles.”
The album pairs jazz’s most lyrical living pianist with songwriting masters of melody, and Mehldau finds fresh radiance in the familiar tunes by exploring their elasticity. These performances show how Beatles songs invite improvisation thanks to their lilt, sturdy construction and sophisticated chord changes.
Mehldau plays “Your Mother Should Know” as jaunty, sunny ragtime, and “She Said She Said” calls to mind film noir. A slow, gentle account of “Here, There and Everywhere” twinkles with discordant splashes and hints of Thelonious Monk, while “I Saw Her Standing There” is rollicking boogie-woogie that would be at home in the French Quarter.
Mehldau has long excelled as an interpreter of rock, and to show the breadth of the Beatles’ influence, he closes the album with David Bowie’s “Life on Mars?” Mehldau’s version seesaws from Broadway buildups to blues reflections before a closing symphonic flourish, which provides the exclamation mark the album deserves.