Written by M.J. Rawls
“Last Hope” — The Endurance of Paramore
“It’s just a spark/But it’s enough to keep me going”
Paramore is that rugged, enduring movie hero that walks through the smoke, tattered, but triumphant at the conclusion of a action movie. Founded in 2004 in Franklin, Tennessee while the members were in their teens, they took their form of energetic alternative rock/pop punk from the stages of Warped Tour to the huge crowd of Madison Square Garden. It’s a treat for a band to have a generation of music fans grow up with them – almost like distant family that you get to see every now and again.
2009’s Brand New Eyes was recorded as an apex to a band who had grown older and gained a certain sense of maturity that comes with that. With growth, there are often somethings that don’t click as well when you first start out on a journey. People grow to want different things and become different people than they were years prior. The disconnect resulted in songs like “Brick By Boring Brick” and “Decode,” created for 2008’s Twilight. At the tail end of that album, tensions lead to both founding members, guitarist and drummer Josh and Zac Farro both leaving the band amidst an ugly and public departure.
Like Rocky movies where the boxer goes through some type of strife whether it be losing a fight or coming up against an insurmountable opponent, you listen to “Monster,” the song off the band’s EP, Singles Club came back with a swift right cross for anyone who didn’t consider Paramore a collective. With new resolve came 2013’s self-titled album and a Grammy award for the infectious “Ain’t It Fun.” However, the foundation of the boat would take some damage to it as former bassist Jeremy Davis left the band and then came another battle.
“Hard Times” and “Told You So,” the first singles from the band’s upcoming album, After Laughter are indicative of the album title. While both musically are upbeat and rhythmically dancable with an 80’s flavor that gives nods to bands like Blondie, the lyrics tell a different story. It’s all about layers – where on the outside, everything could look fine, but once you start getting into the inner sanctums of your emotions, everything is not so bright. “Hard Times” is that never ending hamster wheel that you run in when negative things start to snowball. “Told You So,” is the vicious cycle of history repeating itself distorting those things that you love because there are factors beyond your control.
Which brings us to a particularly special song called “Last Hope.” Now, in life, we cannot relive the past, but we can revisit the lessons that we learned and take what we need. In contrast to the roaring declaration of the first single, “Now,” the song serves as a gradual build to climbing out of the darkness. Much familiar to those who went to 2014’s Monumentour that a co-headliner with Fall Out Boy, it starts with lead singer Hayley Williams voice and guitarist Taylor York in synchronicity, chronicling the slow optimism that comes back after not being sure.
In an interview with Fresh 102.7, Williams stated that the song is “their purpose”. Bands often dream of writing songs that become their signature stamp. It’s that song that many fans find solace in when things look bleak and they look for a medium to be that warm beam of light at the end of the tunnel. Perhaps, it’s also a song that the band could look back on – like the hero who temporarily lost their way and conjures up that certain emotion to come save the day again. Not only are they saving their fans, they are saving themselves – this time, putting their wounds first.
As we go into the new era of Paramore which holds reconciliation with Zac Farro coming back to the drum kit, the spark may be a little different this time around. There’s strength in the vulnerability that Paramore has been showing with their new songs. Sometimes the armor is too pulverized to get back into the fight right away. Maybe the strongest thing you can do is to put down your weapons and allow your journey on the road to recovery be on cruise control. “gotta let it happen”