Through A Note Darkly is a weekly feature on thegreatalbums.com in which contributor Chris Villalta searches for lessons in an album he's heard a lot about, but has never heard in full before
Paramore was the first band to make me conscious of what an album was. I remember putting shuffle on my iPod, skipping until I got to the cover with the red couch because I knew all the songs with the red couch were amazing. At fourteen and fifteen, my attraction to the songs made sense. Those early teens years are times of growth where one realizes that childhood is never coming back, that those first loves won’t last, that in a couple years you’ll get what you want and be let off the leash of adults only to realize the leash was comforting as evidenced by your reaction to the lack of line leaders and guidance in where each of your classes were on the first day of high school. In other words, it is a time when all one knows is falling. But then sixteen, seventeen, eighteen, nineteen, twenty came and the songs kept surfacing above the rest as my favorites to listen to. A listen to the songs in their proper order showed me why.
The record is front loaded with panic. Everything is falling, the pressure to deal with it is felt, you think you have an emergency on your hands and the heart is pounding, pounding, pounding until something incredible happens–somebody exits. “Brighter” is one of the few songs I wasn’t completely in love with at fourteen and fifteen. I wasn’t until sixteen that I met someone who refused to participate in the drama of teenagedom, who saw the pressure and said “I’m good with not feeling that.” I waved goodbye to that person and realized they’ll shine brighter than anyone does for having gone their own route. I decided to try and do the same until being a teenager happened again.
“Here We Go Again” is a fantastic depiction of all the conflicting feelings one feels when entering something they know is bad for them, but also learn is quite fun to experience. “Forget the things we swore we meant,” things like swearing they’d never be with a person like the last again. We forget these words and hold our breath for the ride until it's over and the chorus hits and you say “Can't say I'm sad to see you go.” The verses show one falling into bad habits while the chorus shows one happily leaving those habits behind again and on might think maybe the chorus is where the song will end, with someone happily leaving behind bad habits and being stronger for it. However, the breakdown at the end of the song shows how difficult it is to leave and be the one who shines brighter. All the aches of teenagedom are too delicious to let go to waste, “so we just take it back/Forget the things we swore we meant.” “Never Let This Go” is a logical follow-up to the closing notes of “Here We Go Again,” where Paramore makes it clear, they won’t let go of the pain felt before. But why?
“Whoa” is where one sees the masochistic tendencies of humanity shine through. We learn from the start the we shouldn’t touch hot stoves, but we continuously go back and touch hot stoves throughout our lives, whether it be with relationships, daily habits, career choices, etc. We do this because we don’t want to be helped through it. The only reason we get to sing a chorus as fun as “Whoa”s is because of all the pressure we felt in the past which now demands to be released through song. Triumph can’t be felt without defeat, so sometimes we defeat ourselves to feel that sweet sweet triumph against. However, this doesn’t mean we don’t wish we could be saved from our vicious cycles of pain. While one song holds our announcement of not wanting to be saved, the very next one (literally in Paramore’s case) has us asking “when all security fails/Will you be there to help me through?” We realize this is all a side effect of growing up, of leaving home who in Paramore’s case is the small town in Tennessee called Franklin. Nothing has felt the same since puberty hit, since leaving home happened, since awareness of the ability to escape drama, but also the awareness of how much we love the pain of drama. hit. All you can do is admit you need support and you need someone who needs your support. You need to feel needed and be needed, you need to have a heart that someone needs but also feel the need yourself to beat for them. All We Know Is Falling could have ended on a melancholic note, but it matures to say there’s no real way to mature, so find people to not mature with and help each other out, maybe a band.