Today, Paramore leaked their first music in three years, “Now,” the first single from their self-titled, long-in-the-works fourth album. Here, seven SPIN editors give their hasty and completely impulsive opinions…
Devolving to evolve, it’s the #90s career plan, and we at SPIN are certainly complicit in the process, consistently amusing ourselves to death with once-perky emo bands who adopt ye olde loud-soft, “dynamic range” compression/production, and overly literal lyrics about how the world is weighing heavily on the lead singer’s tiny shoulders. Paramore are more compelling than 99 percent of the abovementioned once-perky emo bands, mainly because of Hayley Williams’ ability to invest her vocals with the love-is-an-operatically-blessed-and-cursed-battlefield feistiness of, say, Billie Joe or Pat Benatar. “There’s a time and a place to die / But this ain’t it!” she bellows, as the band pounds and plays lots of riffs that streak across night sky, and then the chorus ‘splodes all across your auditory field. Futures are embraced, ships come into shores. Then there’s an “ah-ha-ah-ha” chant that once might have been visualized by an ironic pep rally in a Bayer or Pellington or Romanek video. Now, we’ve got the MP3s urgently available blare to keep us warm. Huddle up close, kids.
Early score: 7/10
Aloha, Nick Zinner! Paramore’s newest opens with a Yeah Yeah Yeahs guitar line topped with…a Karen O sneer. “Don’t try to take this from me!” spits Hayley Williams before slipping into her more familiar vocal mode (smoothie Gwen Stefani with a dollop of operatic Amy Lee). If there’s a future in making recorded music, Paramore sure fucking want it. “Now” sounds engineered for radio and stadium love, movie soundtracks and the mall. The good news: this spunky group is smaller, but its sound is deliciously bigger now that Williams has been forced to downsize against her will. The other good news: this is much, much better than the other “Now” you’ll see on the charts this week.
Early score: 7/10
Christopher R. Weingarten
Hello, science! It’s the next Frankenstein’s monster jam in the Brooklyn hipster culture secretly dominates Billboard meme. But instead of going on their Grizzly, Paramore dig a little deeper into the muck for reference points about a half-decade off of everyone else’s reference points. Ergo, “Now” is not even the sound of now’s then. It’s wannabe art-stars doing their best Yeah Yeah Yeahs and young Liars, down to the blown-out “Date With the Night” vocal effects and Threw Us In A Trench aggy-disco beat courtesy of the hired Nine Inch Nails dude. Catchy stuff, but early-’00s swagger-jacking already sounds super dated in the wake of, say, labelmates fun., who are currently making pop mincemeat of more contemporary bands. And also, Ashlee Simpson was doing the “post-punk verse/American Idol chorus” thing back in 2005, and, uh, Nine Inch Nails was too. Paramore clearly wants to go wild, let loose, thrash for the future, play feedback for the no-future, be their own pet. But if Metallica is up on Liturgy, can’t someone get Paramore a the Men record or something?
Early score: 6/10
“Now” is a pretty nifty bait-and-switch. The song starts raw: the sound of drumsticks counting off; gnarled, heavily processed guitar; Hayley Williams’ agitated vocal (“Don’t try to take this from me!”); arty-for-this-band dub echoes; and sonic skuzz. Paramore has been listening to weirder bands! But it quickly becomes obvious that their priorities haven’t changed. The song’s chorus is huge, unobstructed, with Williams getting her version of agit-prop on: “If there’s a future / We want it now!” Something about the mildly rebellious cyber-Les Mis sentiments and vaguely futuristic-dystopian electronics used in the service of pop is mucho Viva la Vida. Provided Paramore keeps it this catchy, I’ll fall in line.
Early score: 8/10
How old was Hayley Williams when Paramore debuted? 16? “Now,” perhaps pop-punk’s first millennial-penned anthem, finds her out Lena-Dunham’ing Lena Dunham, pounding life’s table, demanding answers, amalgamating two decades worth of highly compressed rock moves to ask that which every bleary-eyed twentysomething should and must: “What’s my age again?” Is this it?
Early score: 7/10
Hey Paramore, 2001 called and it wants its dance-punk back. Just kidding: “Now” has the potential to win entirely new audiences with its unlikely fusion of downtown cool and mall-punk populism. It’s as savvy as it is agile. You can hear echoes of Yeah Yeah Yeahs and early Liars in the tune’s jagged guitar-and-drum assault and dubbed-out effects; as the song builds, it sounds like they might have borrowed their amplifier settings from Glen Branca himself. And then all that slashing and burning gives way to as righteous a cry of youthful impatience as you’re likely to hear this year. Finally, the era that future historians will remember as the “Endless Bummer” gives us a slogan worth shouting along to. The kids will have their say — whether or not the planet survives long enough for anyone to hear them.
Early score: 8/10
Paramore are clearly in it for the long haul. You can tell because they slowly but surely switched up their emo bluntness for slow-build sophisto-indie dynamics and they take their time hanging out inside their songs. The hook on “Now” goes “If there’s a future, we want it, now,” and the “now” is a catchy My Chemical Romance nag of “now-ow-ow-ow-ow.” The sentiment? In-the-pocket triumph and sad-as-hell, we’re-all-alone confessional: The rallying “we” grabs anybody and everybody, the maudlin “if” implies there may not be a future and that will hit you if you’ve got #feelings. “Now” also rocks like a shiny garage ripper from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and even has some of the howl-at-the-world intensity of something as raw and uncooked as say, Heavens to Betsy. Moth-eaten modern rockers in 2013, “Now” is your blueprint.
Early score: 9/10
AVERAGE SCORE: 7.42