Music Quickspins

QUICKSPINS: This Is Why – Paramore

After five long years, Paramore treats fans with a new album

The past few years have been a rollercoaster for all of us, including the rock band Paramore. After five long years, Paramore has dropped the explosive album This Is Why in response to the world’s recent pandemic.

After dropping their lead single “This Is Why” in early September of last year, lead singer Hayley Williams has been teasing fans for months about the release of their latest album.  

The multi-layered hit “This Is Why” has been a rock anthem for fans since its release. In comparison to the softer tempo at the beginning of the song, Williams kicks off with the jarring lyrics: “If you have an opinion, maybe you should shove it, or maybe you could scream it, might be best to keep it to yourself.”

These bold words can be felt by the listener throughout the entirety of the track.

The second song (and most notable, in my opinion) is the track “The News.” The lyrics “Shut your eyes but it won’t go away, turn off the news,” clearly speak to the band’s experience during the pandemic and their inability to escape reality. This radical piece is yet another example of Paramore’s talent in the rock industry.

Paramore has been an inspiration in the world of punk rock since the early 2000s. Their sound has influenced a lot of today’s pop stars such as Billie EiIlish, Willow, and Olivia Rodrigo’s 2021 hit “Good 4 U.”

Although most of the album is made up of memorable work, the song “C’est Comme Ça” felt like a recycled beat from their 2017 album After Laughter. The song simply felt random and was inferior when compared to the other pieces.

This Is Why takes a dramatic turn halfway through with the song “Liar.” The combination of acoustic guitar, which isn’t often included in Paramore’s music, and Williams’ gentle lyrics truly make for a heartfelt piece outside the band’s usual vibe.

The album concludes with my favourite piece “Thick Skull.” While the beat keeps a slow, melodramatic rhythm at the beginning, it picks up halfway through with the addition of the drums and electric guitar. Paramore seems to be dipping their toes in the indie world with this one and I’m definitely here for it.

I by no means think This Is Why is Paramore’s best album, but I do think it satisfied fans for the time being. While Paramore’s music has clearly evolved since their first album in 2005, their songs will forever be infused with their punk attitude.

Trial track: “Thick Skull” 

Score: 7/10

Music Quickspins

QUICKPSINS: Avril Lavigne – Love Sux

Three years after releasing Head Above Water, Avril Lavigne returns with a new album that makes us feel like we’re back in the early 2000s.

Avril Lavigne shows growth and more maturity in her seventh studio album Love Sux. But her new tracks still remind us of some of her classic songs like “Sk8er Boi” and “Complicated” given the dominating presence of drums and electric guitar.

Love Sux takes us on an emotional rollercoaster, as if the album was written and produced after a breakup, with the intention to show the raw emotions and stages Lavigne went through to process it. This can be heard in the title track, with lyrics like “Na-na-na, not another breakup” and “Lying in my bed, thinking love sucks.”

The album starts off on an angry and almost sarcastic note. This is heard in “Bite Me,” in which Lavigne sings “You should’ve known better, better to f*ck with someone like me” and “Forever and ever you’re gonna wish I was your wifey.” The record calms down sonically on the fourth track, “Love It When You Hate Me,” with the sarcasm stapling in as a common theme again with the following track “Love Sux.”

Lavigne introduces a much slower beat in the second-to-last track of the album “Dare To Love Me,” making it seem like she seems to be processing her feelings better, and accepting them. But she goes back to a faster rhythm and louder singing in the last song “Break Of A Heartache.” This could be her way of showing more anger and tying the last song to the first.

The album’s description on Apple Music says that back in 2002, the then 17-year-old “angsty” artist was “articulating adolescent rage.” The album description goes on to situate this theme within Lavigne’s modern career, saying that “these frustrations never really go away, so you might as well have some fun writing about them in the process,” even at 37 years old.

Not only does her new album take us on all these ups and downs with her, but it seems like we’re moving in circles, going from fast-paced songs to slower ones and back. Nevertheless, the story she tells from the beginning is consistent and has an ending.

Lavigne begins the first track with “Like a ticking time bomb / I’m about to explode / And motherf*ckers, let’s go,” ending the final song with “And not this time, motherf*cker, so I guess it’s goodbye.”

While Lavigne’s fans back in the 2000s were discovering all sorts of emotions with her, they probably aren’t going through that now. But those who decided to join her on this emotional ride with Love Sux ended up getting the message that no matter how old you are, feelings and emotions can be chaotic. This is something Lavigne has made clear all throughout her journey.

Whether you relate to her exact experience or you just want a throwback to the good ol’ times, this album does the job. But if you’re looking for Lavigne classics, you’d be better off listening to her old songs. Maybe it’s the nostalgia, or maybe they were just better, but nothing will hit the same way as the material on her first album Let Go.


Score: 8/10

Trial track: “Love It When You Hate Me”


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Music Quickspins

QUICKSPINS: Machine Gun Kelly – Tickets to My Downfall

The middling Midwest rapper has veered into pop punk on his latest LP and the outcome is better than expected.

Machine Gun Kelly spent the better part of the 2010s being written off as another melodramatic, corny, white rapper with a rapid-fire flow and not much else to offer — and that’s because he was. Barring a few charting hits and an admirable, albeit short-lived back and forth with Eminem, his career as a rapper was middling at best. With this latest LP, MGK ditches his mundane, multisyllabic flows and generic beats and dons the sound and aesthetic of early 2000s pop-punk, and mostly succeeds in this new realm.

While Tickets to My Downfall is a reinvention for MGK himself, it doesn’t do anything to reinvent or breathe new life into the genre, and that’s perfectly fine. This album thrives in the moments in which it harvests that feeling of early-aughts nostalgia, which is aided greatly by the inclusion of Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker throughout this project.

In contrast, the album’s biggest shortcomings come when it tries way too hard to modernize and clean up the sound. The ethos of punk music is that it comes straight from the heart, including all of its raw unfiltered ugliness, it’s a pure expression of emotion that should be unadulterated.

The instances of quantized trap hi-hats or obvious vocal correction take away from that and make the music way more poppy and cookie-cutter than it should be. Even if bands like Green Day, Sum 41 and Blink-182 produced a more polished and accessible version of punk, MGK takes it to the point where this project could be labelled pop-pop-punk.

Another area in which this album tries too hard to increase its pop appeal is the features, and it suffers for it. The album has four features across its runtime, all varying from horrible to decent. While Halsey and blackbear both do a decent job on their respective tracks, Trippie Redd and Iann Dior have abysmal features. Both of them are astonishingly out of place on their respective tracks and have absolutely zero chemistry with MGK or the music.

As far as MGK himself goes, he can be very hit-or-miss here, but surprisingly he does mostly hit. Vocally, he’s nothing special, but on the songs where there’s no obvious pitch-correction, the rasp in his voice and the tone of his delivery feel very fitting for this genre.

Barring a couple of moments of real depth (“lonely” and “play this when i’m gone”) this album is pretty shallow and juvenile lyrically, and some lines are outright horrible. While in most other cases this would be a real issue, it’s fine for what this album is trying to accomplish. It’s clear that this album is MGK doing his best Blink-182 impression, and that spirit of silly immaturity really fits the mould.

Another way in which this album attempts to give itself a bit more personality is through its interludes, which feature Pete Davidson and Megan Fox. While there’s nothing inherently bad about these interludes, they have nothing much to offer after the first listen. “banyan tree – interlude” actually features a good snippet in the second half, but it’s a chore to sit through the Megan Fox/MGK conversation that precedes it.

Still, there are some saving graces on here. The album’s opener “title track” starts the album off strong, really capturing the essence of the sound that this album is going for and excelling at it. The most clear-cut moment of Blink-182 worship here is “concert for aliens” and it succeeds in restoring that sound, though it can feel a bit too derivative.

The aforementioned moments of depth, “lonely” and “play this when i’m gone” are both solid, emotional tracks. The latter of the two is the album’s closer and serves as a heartfelt letter to his daughter in the event that he reaches his inevitable downfall. It’s a pretty touching moment that closes the album on a high note.

In the end, Tickets to My Downfall might not bring anything new to the pop-punk genre, but it doesn’t need to. As generic and derivative as a lot of the songs on here can be, they do exactly what they set out to do, and that’s to be mindless, fun, pop-punk tracks.

Barring some admittedly horrible songs, this album is a mostly enjoyable pop-punk release for the majority of its 36-minute runtime. While it doesn’t reinvent the wheel – and MGK definitely isn’t the pop-punk revivalist some outlets are making him out to be – Tickets to My Downfall is a decent, entry-level pop-punk album that’s popularity could help to bring the genre back to the mainstream.


Trial Track: concert for aliens

Rating: 6/10


No Holiday for Green Day

Why Green Day powers through a 30-year career

In terms of 1990s and 2000s punk rock, several names emerge as the giants of the decade. One of those bands was Green Day. The trio of Billie Joe Armstrong, Tré Cool, and Mike Dirnt dominated the 90s and parts of the 2000s, and remain to this day one of the most influential punk bands in existence. Despite this, many in music found that as time wore on, Green Day abandoned their traditional punk style and transitioned into an alt/pop-punk sound. Even with their massive success, Green Day’s change of style comes with the idea that they’ve lost their place, often seen as overrated. This could not be more wrong. Green Day, along with their transition into other genres, remain one of the best groups of the era.

Green Day debuted in 1990 with 39/Smooth, but became known for their second studio album Kerplunk. They rose to prominence with Dookie in 1994, one of the greatest albums of the last 25 years. With the release of 1995’s Insomniac, and 1997’s Nimrod, the band experienced rapid success. However, with 2000’s Warning, the doubts about Green Day’s change of tone started to emerge. In his review of the album, Greg Kot wrote in Rolling Stone that “The problem is, (Armstrong) can’t muster the same excitement for his more mature themes.” When Green Day came into the spotlight after a four year hiatus, and American Idiot was released in 2004, they hit gold with the most successful album in the band’s history.

The problems began to arise after American Idiot and 2009’s 21st Century Breakdown, which again, was both a critical and commercial success. “If it’s a continual surprise that Green Day are the ones to pick up the torch and run with it, that’s part of what makes 21st Century Breakdown so fresh and vital,” wrote Rob Sheffield in Rolling Stone. The band’s release of the critical and commercial failure of the Uno… Dos… Tré! compilation album in 2012, and Armstrong’s drinking sent Green Day into a downward spiral that still plagues the band, to a certain extent. After the fallout of the albums, in an article for Billboard magazine, Jason Lipshutz wrote, “With all three members now in their 40s, however, is this really the version of Green Day we want to return?” For many, this was the resounding thought, as Green Day mostly disappeared until October of 2016. The politically charged, “Revolution Radio,” brought Green Day back into the spotlight.

Despite Green Day’s slip ups, they are still producing good music, and should be revered as one of punk rock/pop music’s greats. Revolution Radio marked a key return to form for the band, and one that signals good things for the group. Green Day has certainly stepped away from their peak content in the early to late 90s, but the band is far from overrated. They are still a voice of the generation that grew up with them and will continue to be a presence in their genre for as long as they continue to make music.


Brand New – Science Fiction

Brand New – Science Fiction (Procrastinate! Music Traitors, 2017)

After eight years, pop-punk band Brand New released a great album, Science Fiction. This album is beautiful, dark and explores the tolls of mental health issues in exhaustive detail. Every song on the album has a different sound—some have guitar sounds influenced by southern rock, as well as the band’s classic emo stylings. Jesse Lacey’s deep vocals sound fraught with intense emotion, especially on the songs “Waste” and “Desert.” The lyrics paint a powerful and descriptive picture of personal mental health issues. This line from “Same Logic/Teeth” stuck with me: “Every new layer you uncover reveals something else you hate / And then you cracked your head, and broke some bones / And when you glued them back together you found out you did it wrong.” Although, some songs sounded dull, like “Could Never Be Heaven,” Brand New nonetheless came out with an emotionally potent album that has the potential to resonate with anyone.

Trial Track: “Waste”

Score: 8.5

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