Reflecting On: Paramore – All We Know is Falling

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During 2015, we’re going to be looking back on some of the best albums that were released 10 years ago and discussing their legacy. Feel free to share your thoughts and memories in the replies. Enjoy!

Lights are out, amps are humming, and the air is thick with anticipation. Charging onto the stage, a spirited red head grabs the mic and belts with more vigor than her size suggests, “We. Are. Paramore!”

Back before this trio became the worldwide phenomenon we know today, Paramore were like most opening bands – desperate for a chance to share their songs and make their mark. The wild and astonishing ride we’ve seen unfold over the past decade all began with All We Know is Falling – the band’s striking debut album.

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You can purchase All We Know is Falling on iTunes.

Released to little fanfare by Fueled by Ramen, All We Know is Falling relied heavily on organic word of mouth buzz. All in their mid to late teens at the time of the album’s release, singer Hayley Williams, guitarists Josh Farro and Jason Bynum, and drummer Zac Farro appeared as mild mannered kids, yet their music and live performance spoke otherwise. Paramore earned their stripes early through relentless touring, getting in front of as many eyes and ears as possible.

It’s not at all surprising that people took notice. Even 10 years later, All We Know is Falling is packed with infectious songs. Emulating the emo pop vibe of its era, the album is full of youthful spunk and emotion, highlighted by Williams’ stunning vocal performance and the powerful drumming of young Zac Farro. The two shine brightly on turbulent opener “All We Know” as Williams belts the massive, anguished chorus of, “All we know is falling, it falls / Remember, because I know that we won’t forget at all”.

Years before the band would suffer significant inter-band turmoil and the painful departure of the Farro brothers, Williams and company were already wrestling with the loss of bassist Jeremy Davis. Although Davis would return to the lineup before the end of the album cycle, his disappearance served as fodder for much of the band’s debut. Nevertheless, All We Know isn’t angry as much as it is searching for answers.

Even though the album would garner most of its attention due to excellent singles “Pressure” and “Emergency”, there’s very little filler to be found. “Here We Go Again” finds the band testing the waters of what would become their energetic follow up of Riot!, while “My Heart” is an emotive closer that became a fan favorite at live shows.

“Conspiracy and “Never Let This Go” are slow burns that pay off thanks to incredible songwriting, along with direction from producer James Paul Wisner. When Williams begins the latter with the line of “Maybe if my heart stops beating, it won’t hurt this much”, her pained vocals wash away any possible feelings of triteness, especially after the band crashes into the explosive chorus.

Most of the tracks on the album sound on the brink of something bigger, even as you’re gladly singing along. It’s easy to look back and see a young band on the edge of forthcoming radio dominance. Perhaps what’s most telling is how well the album has held up, even after Paramore’s massive success and rapid growth as a hit making machine. There’s something timeless about this early work, even if the band members were only in their infancy as professional songwriters.

Maybe what makes All We Know is Falling so appealing after all these years is the stories it holds. We got our first glimpse into Williams’ painful inner-wrestling with the concept of love in light of her parents’ divorce on “Emergency” as she sings, “I’ve seen love die way too many times when it deserved to be alive / I’ve seen you cry way too many times when you deserved to be alive”.

On “Franklin”, the band reflects on their changing hometown after leaving for a life on the road. I was struck with a surprising ache when hearing the song performed live during the band’s recent Writing the Future tour. Originally a duet between Williams and Josh Farro, the song’s gentle final lines now feel haunting a decade later when sung between Williams and guitarist Taylor York: “Could you remind me of a time when we were so alive / Do you remember that? / Do you remember that?”

All We Know is Falling is much more than a simple debut – it’s a time capsule that reminds us of Paramore’s beginnings and the crazy journey that followed. The album isn’t as instantly catchy as Riot!, as visceral as Brand New Eyes, or as diverse as Paramore. It is, however, its own, unique entity, full of life and rhythm. As much as I love everything Paramore has become, All We Know is Falling will always be a favorite of mine and a constant reminder of the pain and joy of being alive.

by Kiel Hauck

kiel_hauckKiel Hauck is the editor in chief at It’s All Dead. Over the past decade, he has been a contributor for multiple online and print publications and was most recently an editor at PopMatters. Kiel currently resides in Indianapolis, IN with his wife and their imaginary pet, Hand Dog. You can follow him on Twitter.

Ain’t It Fun: The Career Arc of Paramore

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In case you haven’t noticed, Paramore is still going strong. Their self-titled album, released this April, debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 and their smash single “Still Into You” is still lighting up the pop airwaves. Even aside from its commercial success, Paramore stands as the band’s best work to date and is a testament to the band’s ability to rise from what appeared to be ashes.

The internal struggles and fallout within the band’s members has been well documented and needs no further investigation. However, it is a part of the story and is certainly an integral part in shaping this current unit – one that has one of the largest global followings imaginable for a rock band in the aughts and one that has pushed itself far beyond what most knew they were capable of.

In the midst of a North American headlining tour supporting the strongest album of their career, we thought it would be a good time to reflect on the band’s work and discuss the future of Paramore.

All We Know is Falling

all_we_knowFrom the moment a young Hayley Williams belted out the chorus to the album’s opening track, “All We Know”, it was clear that this band was headed for great things. In this scene, “great things” usually means a shot at radio play, a semi-successful music video and a headlining tour or two. Paramore had bigger things in mind.

There’s no denying how young the band sounds on this album. It’s a tad raw and a bit disjointed at times, but even through the cracks you can see something sincere shining through. There’s a certain level of innocence to this album, even if the lyrics to songs like “Emergency” and “Pressure” allude to a hidden pain and experience. Williams and guitarist Josh Farro penned several of the songs together and Farro’s backup vocals add an appropriate unrefined touch.

Truth be told, even with the rawness of the production and songwriting, the songs come together to form an album that many bands several albums into their career would strive for. Williams’ melodies flow effortlessly, backed by an almost-emo soundscape, creating a worthy debut for the Franklin, Tenn. act.

Riot!

riotIt’s easy to tell why this was the band’s breakthrough album. Remember the first time you heard the opening moments of “Misery Business” and immediately knew that this band was no longer your little secret? From front to back, Riot! screams for attention and is loaded with crossover potential. Paramore didn’t just avoid the sophomore slump, the eviscerated the idea of it.

The beautiful thing is that even though many of the songs are clearly created with an intent to be a hit, there’s no smacking of phony or forced creation. These songs sound polished without sounding fake and feel honest without feeling strained. Try not to sing along to “Crushcrushcrush” or “That’s What You Get” without feeling even the slightest bit snobbish. There’s something relatable and innately fun about these songs. And that’s perfectly okay.

Riot! would end up going platinum, becoming the hallmark release for the band and the album that pushed them from hometown kids to global phenoms. Yet even amidst the success, the inner workings of the band were suffering. However, instead of succumbing to the frustrations that sought to tear the band apart, Williams used them as fuel to create the band’s most frank and candid record.

Brand New Eyes

Brand_New_EyesComing off of the heels of a successful addition to the ballyhooed Twilight soundtrack, the band’s next release took a stark turn from the poppy sunshine of Riot!. Even without any back story, Brand New Eyes is so clearly about the band’s troubles, namely the divide between Williams and Josh Farro, that it can be painful to listen to.

That’s not to say that the album is bad – it certainly isn’t. If anything, it showcases a welcome maturity in songwriting and saved the band from becoming a broken record. The anger in Williams’ voice when she sings “Ignorance” and “Careful” is sharp and to the point, seemingly vanishing her former peppy and bright-eyed image.

Amidst the frustration, this is a band struggling to come to terms with success, relational discord and growing up, all while just hitting their early 20s. Yet even while venting her annoyance, Williams still takes time to speak with a clear head, singing of the band on “Looking Up”, “It’s not a dream anymore / It’s worth fighting for”.

Unfortunately, the damage was already done. Even after positive reviews and another wildly successful single in “The Only Exception”, the album proved to be a breaking point of sorts. Just over a year after the release, Josh and Zach Farro parted ways with the band in an ugly divorce that went public and threatened to tarnish the image of everyone involved. Within the disarray, Williams and company were able to regroup and create a masterpiece.

Paramore

paramore_coverWith Taylor York officially joining Williams and bassist Jeremy Davis as the official core members of the band, they proceeded to take their time creating the follow-up to Brand New Eyes. It was certainly worth the wait. Without the help of the Farro brothers, Paramore was able to write an album that surpassed their past work in composition, maturity, power and accessibility.

Paramore is a rock record. To try to pigeon-hole it further would be fruitless, as the album features a number of styles and genres amidst its songs that combine to make a much greater and far less easily pegged whole. Amazingly, even with the plethora of styles and sounds flowing through each track, the album never feels disjointed and every song has its own place. The wonderfully written interludes serve as an even stronger glue, holding the story together.

Speaking of interludes, the tongue-in-cheek “I’m Not Angry Anymore” is a barometer of sorts for the band. Williams surely isn’t angry in the way that made Brand New Eyes come across so bitterly, but she’s using her emotions to propel her forward towards something much more hopeful, even if she has to battle cynicism along the way.

Aside from the lyrical content, the music itself is a long shot from the early pop-punk/emo days of the band. “Ain’t it Fun” is a bouncy modern rock song that benefits from a monstrous chorus and backing choir vocals to push it over the top. “Daydreaming” is a power pop ballad with an aggressive touch while “Hate to See Your Heart Break” is a slow-tempo daydream of a song.

With Paramore, the band has cemented itself in a musical landscape far beyond the what many bands in this scene are capable of and set themselves up for a career that could last as long as they’re willing to take it. It seems clear that the band is the healthiest it’s ever been and has no plans of stopping.

Where will the future take them? Williams has proven herself as not only a pop icon, but someone with the creative willpower and vocal chops to keep herself relevant and at the forefront. Assuming that her solo ventures don’t distract too much from Paramore the brand, the group has a great chance of remaining near the top of the charts for years to come.

-by Kiel Hauck

kiel_hauckKiel Hauck is the editor in chief at It’s All Dead. Over the past decade, he has been a contributor for multiple online and print publications and was most recently an editor at PopMatters. Kiel currently resides in Indianapolis, IN with his imaginary pet, Hand Dog.  You can follow him on Twitter.