Paramore has been one of my all-time favourite bands since I picked-up Brand New Eyes from a second-hand book festival. I heard that record around the time their self-titled record was released and since then they’ve been staples in my collection. Since a friend and I are going to see them live this coming weekend I thought I’d dedicate this week to reviewing each of their five studio albums beginning with their breakout debut, All We Know Is Falling.
For a record that displays as much maturity as this, it almost comes as a shock to learn that, at the release of the lead single, “Pressure,” Hayley Williams was only seventeen years old and their drummer only fifteen. The Paramore heard here isn’t the fun pop/punk act on Riot or the self-titled but a group wrestling with feelings of loss and longing. That their bassist, Jeremy Davis, left the band during the writing sessions anchors that sadness and weaves it into the record’s overarching concept. Lyrically, much of All We Know…. centres around that feeling of loneliness and longing and much of the record leans on that mid-2000s emo-rock sound for its musical backbone. As a result, the album does feel a little dated at times and its production is by far the weakest of their discography.
However, rest assured that this in no way implies that All We Know…. isn’t a solid record. While the instrumentation can sound fairly stale and one-note on occasion the melodies stand amongst some of the band’s best. “Emergency,” for example, is a fantastic, driving rock song that features a crushingly emotional chorus. “Brighter” is a strong ballad revolving around a failing relationship delivered by William’s commanding vocals as she sings, “Now I think we’re taking this too far / Don’t you know that it’s not this hard / Well it’s not this hard / But if you take what’s yours and I take mine / Must we go there / Please not this time, no not this time…. / If you run away now will you come back around?” “My Heart” is one of Paramore’s best closers complete with the band’s sole moment of hardcore screaming.
All We Know’s…. largest detractor is the lack of variety in the instrumentation and this causes the songs to rely on William’s vocals more than they should. Granted, this is more than likely the result of them being most comfortable with this straightforward sound than any lack of ambition (as we’ll see with later records). When the record dips its toes into something slightly different it does trip up. “Here We Go Again” has an almost danceable quality to the guitar despite it being a forgettable rocker overall. “Whoa” vies for a fun, peppy approach but it winds up sounding more like uninspired filler than a unique highlight.
All We Know Is Falling is undeniably the product of a young band and that unpolished quality shines through on more than one occasion. However, there are a number of great cuts here and it sounds unlike anything else the band has done. If you’re looking for a simple, above average emo record with a heavier edge you’ll be doing yourself a favour by giving this one a spin.