Paramore Bring Some Friends on Board for the Invigorating 'Re: This Is Why'

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BY Megan LaPierrePublished Oct 6, 2023

Every Paramore song tends to be its own little existential plane. That's why This Is Why stood out to me as their tightest and most cohesive record to date, but I had admittedly struggled to differentiate between the songs in my memory bank. Re: This Is Why expands the universe of those songs, while also revealing the depth — and range — of both Paramore's peer influences and their influence on their peers.

Bartees Strange taking on "Figure 8" results in a dark horse tour-de-force. I think this one's my favourite? Strange takes the song on such a journey, and one that definitely deviates from its namesake's endless returns. It starts sparse and bizarrely pitch-shifted, then gets synthy, then noir-rocky, then — and this is the best part — the singer-songwriter goes acoustic and subverts the melody into something that could be a hit for Dijon.

On the other end of the spectrum (of surprises, not quality), it's no shocker that Remi Wolf brings the most fun to the oeuvre. Even when praying for someone's karmic demise, Wolf sounds like she's having a blast, singing a slightly altered topline over a bouncy, energetic guitar groove. There's even some delightful "ooh-sha-la-la-la" backing vocals for the final chorus.

No offense to them, but Claud's take on "Crave" was the part of the tracklist I was least excited about hearing, mostly because "Crave" was one emotionally resonant straggler from the original. Thankfully, as expected, they lean into the sappy sentimentality and tenderness far more than Paramore did, and it totally works for them. By the same virtue, Wet Leg's take on the most post-punk track, "C'est Comme Ça" also shouldn't have been exciting; there's nothing unexpected about this. Perhaps that's why the buzz band's version feels so natural — but they didn't go for the easy, obvious choices in making it their own, probably due to Rhian and Hester's noted reverence for Paramore. 

It was hardly more left-field to put Julien Baker on the dark, foreboding "Thick Skull," but she too brings some unexpected elements to her rendition. She wails way beyond the capacity of her tiny frame, as she does on some of her own catalogue and her work with boygenius, but she mutates the original's whispery, clouded refrain into a glitched-out, crunchy guitar breakdown.

And the whole thing ends on an entirely different new-old foot: "Sanity," an unreleased Paramore demo recorded during the After Laughter era. They likely chose it because it feels like a bridge between that world and that of This Is Why (is this why?), but its retention of some of the preceding record's bright-pastel new wave also points toward where they may go next. Or maybe not! They've continued to show us why, so we'll let the how be their little secret.


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