Countless country musicians move to Nashville to chase their dreams. But during the mid-2000s emo boom, one of the city’s most popular homegrown exports was a group of teenagers playing punk-pop who grew up in the shadow of the Music Row hit factory.
Paramore have changed their sound and personnel more than once since the fiery revenge anthem “Misery Business” brought them platinum fame over a decade ago. But here’s a chance to catch up on their surprisingly varied discography before they headline the Armory tonight.
Paramore took a path to fame similar to contemporaries like Fall Out Boy, signing to the star-making label Fueled by Ramen and spending a few summers on the Vans Warped Tour. But they stood out thanks to singer Hayley Williams, one of the few prominent women in a predominantly male scene, and her soaring voice and brightly dyed (usually orange) hair. And even their early albums showed signs of pop smarts and diverse influences beyond their punky peer group, from the piano balladry of “We Are Broken” to the hushed, folky intimacy of “Misguided Ghosts.”
In 2013, Paramore released their self-titled fourth album, an unlikely 70-minute magnum opus where their cautious experimentation flowered in a dozen different directions. It paid off in the form of their biggest chart hit, the R&B-tinged “Ain’t It Fun,” as well deep cuts like the “(One of Those) Crazy Girls,” a darkly funny satire of gender stereotypes set to a swooning doo wop melody. And their ambition extended to picking up threads from earlier records, with the icy post-punk track “Part II” serving as a sequel to 2007’s “Let the Flames Begin.”
Paramore have weathered several lineup changes over the years, with Williams the only constant member. And those departures and returns have formed the running storyline of the band, often reflected in its albums. Bassist Jeremy Davis briefly left the band a few days before they recorded their 2005 debut All We Know Is Falling, and the shadow on the album’s cover art symbolized his absence. In 2008, as Paramore’s popularity was exploding, they abruptly canceled several shows and nearly split up. On 2009’s “Looking Up,” Williams sang optimistically, “I can’t believe we almost hung it up/ We’re just getting started,” but the drama wasn’t over: Co-founding guitarist and drummer Josh and Zac Farro left Paramore just a year later.
Paramore’s current lineup, which recorded the band’s fifth album, 2017’s After Laughter, is the core trio of Williams, guitarist Taylor York, and Zac Farro, who returned around the time Davis left the band again in 2016. On After Laughter, they venture further than ever from the emo sound that made them famous, with synths and danceable beats replacing Big Muff pedal riffs. Like “Ain’t It Fun,” much of the album is draped in neon ’80s textures and punk/funk fusions, but there’s a world-weary air of anxiety to songs like “Grudges” and “Idle Worship” that sets After Laughter apart from your usual sunny homages to pop from the Reagan era.
Paramore deep cuts playlist
With: Foster the People, Jay Som
When: 6 p.m. Thurs. July 5
Tickets: $55-$150; more info here