Hayley Williams performing with Paramore LAURENCE DION/ FLICKR, https://flic.kr/p/m1Xi44

It was 2018. My Chemical Romance had been broken up for 5 years, Fall Out Boy were attempting to make EDM, and Panic! at the Disco had just released one of the most irritatingly cheerful pop songs of all time, “High Hopes”. So, when Paramore announced that they would no longer be playing their 2007 hit “Misery Business”, it seemed to be the final nail in the coffin for emo (and it wasn’t just a prop coffin for a music video). Emos everywhere stopped straightening their hair and started listening to top 40 hits or, even worse, pop punk.

“I have some good news: emo is back from the dead”

Well, for those of us who never threw out our Taking Back Sunday CDs and striped arm warmers, I have some good news: emo is back from the dead, and the recent singles from Paramore and Fall Out Boy are here to prove it. The former released the title track from their upcoming album This Is Why last September, and as soon as the spiky guitar riff crashes into the chorus it becomes clear that they have departed from the 80s new wave pop of their previous album, 2017’s After Laughter. An album well received by critics and fans alike, but nevertheless better suited to cry-dancing than head banging. “This is Why” is more restrained than the songs they made as teenagers, the lyrics sharper and the vocals tamer, but it has the same middle-finger-to-the-world energy as their first album Riot!.

Fall Out Boy’s new single, “Love from the Other Side”, is even more reminiscent of emo days gone by, with its thrashing guitar, belted choruses and sardonic lyricism (“I’ll never go/ I just want to be invited” could have easily been posted on bassist Pete Wentz’s Myspace in 2004).

There’s a fine line between returning to your roots and becoming a sad caricature of your younger self, but both bands walk it well, not getting trapped in the past but instead reclaiming it. Paramore have seen a lot of turmoil in their career, and the past few years have been no exception, with lead singer Hayley Williams divorcing New Found Glory’s frontman Chad Gilbert, but things seem to be looking up: this is the first time that Paramore have kept the same line-up for two consecutive albums.


Mountain View

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Maybe this new-found harmony has brought about the return to their roots — they are no longer running from the old Paramore but embracing it. Or maybe they have looked at the state of the world recently and thought that we all deserve to yell about our feelings like we did when we were 15.

As Williams said in an interview with The Guardian: “I look at the internet, the news, and it feels like [we’re in] Lord of the Flies”. “The News” is incidentally the name of the second single from This is Why, and it’s another exemplary display of matured angst, this time about watching the apocalypse happen in real time on your Twitter feed.

With My Chemical Romance reunited, Paramore back in the charts, and Fall Out Boy back in our headphones, it’s clear that something has shifted. If the 2000s were all about teenage angst, it seems the 2020s are all about adult angst, and it couldn’t sound better.