Year 2, Day 1: Paramore – RIOT!
- For a Pessimist, I’m Pretty Optimistic
- That’s What You Get
- Misery Business
- When It Rains
- Let The Flames Begin
- We Are Broken
- Born For This
Welcome to the second year of The Broad Street Playlist! Last year, the first year, we opened up with Mando Diao’s ode to that time in the morning between the after party and that time in the morning where anything seems possible, Ode to Ochrasy. It was a fusion of raw power and mellow beats.
So with the second year of The Broad Street Playlist underway, let us open it with a bang! There are a few things that I am a sucker for when it comes to music. One, are dual guitarists and dual frontmen, like with Mando Diao. Another, is duos, like Johnossi or The Black Keys. Finally, I am a sucker for female vocalists, but not the Americanized bubble gum pop kind of female vocalist. Paramore appeals to me on so many levels: killer vocals from Hayley Williams, powerful guitar, driving song tempo, and so much more.
So let’s start with RIOT! the second studio album from American rock band Paramore. I remember playing That’s What You Get, Misery Business, and crushcrushcrush in Rock Band 3, and thinking “hey these songs are pretty catchy. Let me check out the rest of the album.”
So I did. I wasn’t quite blown away, but I was seriously impressed. I liked what I heard.
About the Album
Riot! is the second studio album of Paramore, an American pop-punk band. It was release in December of 2007. It is certified Platinum in the United States, and Gold in the United Kingdom.
Thoughts on the Album
I should probably preface this by saying, I’m probably not the target demo for this album, but it’s whatever. I’ll also preface that by saying the album is also an acquired taste. It won’t appeal to everyone.
Hayley Williams’ voice is pretty damn amazing on this album. For such a tiny figure she has, she belts out the vocals with power and authority and control. Let’s just get this out of the way now, this album is pure pop-punk at it’s finest. But that’s not a bad thing. One reason why I love Riot! is it’s an uncomplicated album, comprised of uncomplicated music, among other things.
Where other albums of the genre fail, this one shines. It’s incredibly far from just another dull pop punk retread. No. Paramore with Riot! goes on the offense with an infectious enthusiasm. Riot! is one of best “wears it’s heart on it’s sleeve” records, I’ve ever heard. Not only that, it is a high energy album, right down to the ballad “We Are Broken”.
Riot! starts off the soaring “For a Pessimist, I’m Pretty Optimistic” which features some heart pounding guitar riffs. It’s a strong opening for the album, which leads into the first single from the album, “That’s What You Get”. May I just say that, Hayley Williams’ voice during the chorus of “That’s What You Get” damn near gave me chills. It’s definitely a fun song to sing along to… especially with the chorus.
The next single from this album “Hallelujah” probably showcases Hayley Williams’ vocals the best. It shows off Williams’ vocals all while maintaining an upbeat and exciting song. While it has a different tone to it, stylistically, it is consistent.
“Misery Business,” starts off with that guitar riff, which is extremely catchy. You probably could find yourself humming or whistling along. Also, man that chorus. I can’t think of a better word other than booming. Between the opening guitar riff and the solo later on during the song, it’s probably the best feature of this song. The song could have featured Hayley’s voice better, but, again, it’s whatever. It’s definitely a fun song to listen to.
As for the rest of the album, “When It Rains” slows down a bit and personally, sounds a wee bit out of place. It loses it’s edge, and eases off for more mid-tempo compared to the rest of the album’s edgy and fast paced, in-your-face tempo. It takes awhile (i.e. a few listens) to appreciate “When It Rains”.
Other highlights from the second half of Riot!: “Miracle” and “crushcrushcrush” are my favorite songs from the second half of the album. I don’t know why but with “crushcrushcrush” I found myself singing along to the bridge of “Rock and Roll, baby, don’t you know”. It’s catchy.
The closing song, “Born for This”. Probably the best song on the album. And that’s not because it’s the last song and after it ends, it’s over. No. The guitar drop out during the triumphant “We were born for this” refrain does it for me. But it’s not just that. Considering most bands in this genre of pop-punk seem to end their albums on a down note. Paramore does the opposite with “Born for This”. Of course, I am a sucker for guitar heavy songs with booming choruses.
Like I prefaced earlier, Riot! definitely is an acquired taste. But once you get it, you’ll love it. For a Sophomore release, it’s a pretty damn good one. The first half of the album features a relentless assault of sugar-sweet riffs and soaring choruses. Those riffs and soaring choruses dominate the rest of album, only easing off for the mid-tempo pulse of “When it Rains”.
While I will say that Riot! isn’t without fault, it’s positives make up for it’s faults. Also, when you hear Hayley Williams sing for the first time, you too, will be wondering where she got that set of pipes from.
“That’s What You Get,” “Misery Business,” and “crushcrushcrush” are definitely the most popular songs from the album and easiest ones to sing along too.
Final thoughts: catchy pop-punk plus a soaring (and booming) vocal range from Hayley plus quick tempo angsty songs = a pretty good album. To the purists, this album is nothing more than garbage. But to those who are willing to look past the obvious pop tendencies, you’ll enjoy it.
One down, thirty-nine more to go! Come back tomorrow for album two!
(Random side note/fact thing: singing Paramore in Rock Band 3 as a guy is… awkward, but fun.)