First Listen: Paramore's New Album

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Paramore
WRITTEN BY
William Goodman

Paramore's brand new eyes, their third studio album and follow-up to 2007's breakout Riot!, is due out September 29. We dropped by the offices of the Tennessee-based band's record label (Fueled By Ramen) to hear six of the 11 tracks. Our verdict: If you think singer Hayley Williams shares her life on Twitter, just wait: The record is like a heartfelt page ripped straight from her diary.

Williams, 20, chronicles the emotional hardships of keeping the band together through the frustrations of nonstop touring and creative infighting. And she writes about love -- and her struggles to keep believing in God.

For a bunch of recent high-school grads whose career was launched by MTV, Paramore are a more mature band on brand new eyes. They amplify Riot!'s pop-punk sound with slick, arena-rock guitars. And Paramore's chief songwriter/guitarist Josh Farro deepens the group's sound with a couple of poignant acoustic ballads.

Here are highlights from the six tracks we heard:

"Playing God":
When Hayley Williams is pissed off...take cover! Over spiky electric guitar riffs, the siren seems to take aim at her own group: "You don't deserve a point of view, if the only thing you see is you / Next time you point a finger, point it to the mirror!" Farro soon joins the chant, and the song caps with the two locked in a heated call-and-response. "This is your last chance," screams Williams. "I'll point you to the mirror!" replies Farro.

"Turn It Off":
This slow acoustic song is a meditation on the trials of religious belief, with Williams at her most exposed. "I scraped my knees when I was praying and found a demon / It's getting hard to believe in anything / I'm seeing everyone I looked up to break and bending," she confesses, in a soft conversational tone, while a guitar plays gently alongside. "The worst part is before you get any better you hit the bottom / But in the free fall, I realized I'm better off when I hit the bottom."

"The Only Exception":
Sounds like somebody's been listening to Coldplay! This anthem is about finding and understanding love after spending a lifetime avoiding it, and Williams and Co. deliver the message with a newfound tenderness. "Maybe I know somewhere deep in my soul where love never lasts," she sings over acoustic strums. "Up until now I was convinced I was happy being alone / But you are the only exception."

"Brick By Boring Brick":
Move over Green Day, Paramore have their own epic. On this nearly-five-minute-long track-the fivesome's most expansive and accomplished yet-Williams sings a narrative about a fallen fairytale princess, nodding to her own semi-charmed rock-star life. "Keep your feet on the ground / When your head's in the clouds," she spits, and then the full band chimes in: "Ba da da ba da dada." Prepare to sing along.

"Where the Lines Overlap":
This stadium-eyeing rocker is a celebration of the band's triumph over setbacks and squabbles. "No one is as lucky as us! / I've never been happier," Williams declares. "I get the feeling that if I sang it loud enough, you'd sing it back to me!" Navigating numerous stops and starts, Paramore closes with the full-band chant, "No one's as lucky as us!" They might be right.

"Ignorance":
Williams told SPIN this tune is about feeling "judged, singled out, and betrayed" by her bandmates. "Ignorance is your new best friend / You treat me just like a stranger / I guess I'll be on my way out," she sings over gritty, nü-metal guitars. The song is the album's first single, and was released earlier this summer. Listen here.

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