Out with the new, in with the old – Paramore’s “Brand New Eyes” doesn’t measure up

How do you follow up a “Riot”? With “Brand New Eyes” – emphasis on new.

. While 2007’s “Riot” spawned several standout hits such as “CrushCrushCrush,” “Misery Business,” and “That’s What You Get,” “Brand New Eyes” fails to follow suit.

That’s not to say that the band’s junior year effort is completely lackluster. Throw any of the album’s 11 tracks into a hat, pull one out, declare it a single and it’ll be almost guaranteed to receive some serious radio play. Unfortunately, that has less to do with each song being a standout hit and more to do with the almost monotonous interchangeability of the entire offering. This is by no means the fault of fiery front woman Hayley Williams, whose vocals soar over what would otherwise be nameless, faceless Hot Topic background noise without her contribution. Reminiscent of a less operatic Amy Lee (of Evanescence), Williams has a voice that could carry the band to the moon and back – and it may very well have to.

Twilight fans will find familiarity in the haunting melody of “Decode,” which was featured in the series’ first movie last Fall and is one of the more unique tracks on the album, along with the forlorn “All I Wanted” and the upbeat “Looking Up.” Even with those highpoints, however, the band still fails to recapture the magic that infused the pop-rock anthems that were “CrushCrushCrush” and “That’s What You Get” – in short, the eleven tracks on “Brand New Eyes” make up a paltry silver medal to “Riot’s” first place trophy.

A mix of acoustic ballads with powerhouse radio rock sums up the tone of the album, which is certain to please the band’s most dedicated fans, who thirsted for new music. For the casual listener however, something is missing here. The spark that separated Paramore from the droves of other bands just like them seems to have flickered, if not completely gone out, with their third effort. In short, while there’s nothing terribly wrong with “Brand New Eyes”, there’s nothing terribly right either. What we have here can easily be summed up in one word: stalemate. Hopefully with their next effort, Paramore build up enough confidence to stop coasting on past success and push the envelope – they certainly have the potential. As Williams sings in the last few lyrics of “Decode,” “There is something I see in you…I want it to be true.”


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