Ranking Paramore’s 6 Studio Albums
Paramore has made a name for themselves since their humble beginnings in Franklin, Tennessee. With rich post-grunge sounds, striking female vocals, and powerful emo anthems, the trio have shifted and evolved over their almost 20-year career, undeniably making waves in the pop-punk scene.
Tracks such as “Misery Business” have infamously defined emo and transcended generations of audiences. There’s no single Paramore album that necessarily stacks up better than the rest. It all comes down to which album has the richest sound, lyrics, and impact.
In ranking Paramore’s albums from worst to best, there’s an opportunity to explore six very different approaches to creating music that resonates with audiences. Each album gives listeners a chance to see Paramore reinvent themselves once more. From shifts in band members, personal relationships, and individual growth, Hayley Williams has cataloged a lifetime of experiences across Paramore’s six studio albums.
6. All We Know Is Falling (2005)
Why It’s Paramore’s “Worst” Album
No debut album is perfect, and in Paramore’s case, All We Know Is Falling had one major downfall — time. Recorded in just three weeks, record label Fueled by Ramen pushed this album out in July 2005. All We Know Is Falling offers shortsighted lyrics partnered with straightforward pop-punk riffs. As a standalone album, it simply doesn’t compete with Paramore’s later work.
At the time of release, the album failed to stack up against more established pop-punk bands at the time, their marketing strategy was simply word-of-mouth. All We Know Is Falling is written for teenagers, by teenagers. It’s not a bad record by any means, just a little unpolished. There’s no denying that the band put in their best efforts instrumentally, but their youth shows on All We Know Is Falling.
5. After Laughter (2017)
Why It’s Paramore’s 5th Best Album
Experimental, playful, and layered with pop sounds, After Laughter could not be more opposite to All We Know Is Falling. Tracks like “Hard Times” and “Fake Happy” are relatable and fun. Paramore pushed themselves in a new direction with After Laughter, pulling away from their infamous post-grunge sound and into indie-pop and new wave. It was a bold move for the 2017 release, and while a couple of tracks fall flat with their story-centric lyrics, there’s something commendable about the way Paramore explored their sound on this album.
The maturity of Williams’ vocals really comes through, particularly on “Idle Worship“. Williams’ range and lively performative nature support the eccentric instrumentals of After Laughter. While it’s clear that Paramore has grown and developed their sound as a band, it feels like an album that’s written off the back of a tour, desperate to stay relevant and keep fans intrigued. There’s no denying that After Laughter created interest and well-deserved critical acclaim. However, later hiatuses have proved that when Paramore takes a step back from touring and production, they create absolute magic. This album in comparison feels like a step in the right direction, but not their strongest record.
4. Riot! (2007)
Why It’s Paramore’s 4th Best Album
The infamous album that launched Paramore as an influential pop-punk band in the 2000s sits just below halfway on this list, and for good reason. Undeniably Paramore’s most celebrated record, Riot! features infamous tracks like “Misery Business“, “Crushcrushcrush“, and “That’s What You Get.” The high-energy nature of this album is a step up from All We Know Is Falling, but when stacked against later albums there is a lack of self-awareness on this album that cannot compete with later records.
There’s no denying that Paramore elevated their instrumentals on this record. That’s what people listen to Riot! for, its striking pop-punk sound. While lyrically the album is not particularly strong it doesn’t matter. The work Paramore put into creating Riot! has resulted in pop-punk anthems that transcend generations of audiences. Ask any emo from 15 years to name a great pop-punk song and you’ll be told “Misery Business” time and time again.
Riot! is by no means Paramore’s worst album, it created a foundation for the band’s long-term commercial success. However, the combination of simple lyrics and inconsistencies within the band’s lineup took a toll on producing this album. In the years to come band members came and went from Paramore, but Riot! has lived on regardless. It paved the way for Paramore’s signature post-grunge sound and impressive vocals. In many ways Riot! redefined pop-punk, however, it doesn’t quite hold up against more complex albums. Listen to Riot! for its legacy, not for great songwriting.
3. Brand New Eyes (2009)
Why It’s Paramore’s 3rd Best Album
In the wake of Riot!’s success, Brand New Eyes brought Paramore a new wave of commercial success. After partnering with The Twilight Saga to create “Decode” and “I Caught Myself,” Paramore’s album Brand New Eyes offered a newfound self-awareness of the band’s position in the pop-punk scene.
Tracks like “Ignorance” and “Careful” break into the familiar post-grunge sound fans had grown to love about Paramore. Softer tracks such as “The Only Exception” and “Misguided Ghosts” shifted the band’s position as songwriters. The lyrics are more conversational and personal, making the tracks deeply relatable and accessible to audiences outside of pop-punk. Brand New Eyes offered a more digestible sound to audiences. Once again broadening their audience and introducing elements of pop into their sound. “All I Wanted” highlights the best of Paramore’s growth in the 2000s. Williams’ powerful vocals and Taylor York’s instrumental prowess propelled the band’s sound, creating a deeply reflective and meditative song. “All I Wanted” is still one of Paramore’s most infamous songs, powering TikTok trends and emo renaissances worldwide.
Some fans claim that Brand New Eyes was Paramore’s last “real” pop-punk album. Regardless of whether or not that’s true, there’s a deeper sound that this album hits. Paramore found their niche in pop-punk and performed with their largest ensemble of band members to date. In years to come, the band would become smaller and more experimental. It would be fair to say that Brand New Eyes wasn’t the band’s last “real” pop-punk album, but their most equipped. Original and new members all played together, building ideas and sounds, all while navigating personal drama and fighting for their place in Paramore. As a result, the album is rich and energizing.
2. This Is Why (2023)
Why It’s Paramore’s 2nd Best Album
After an almost five-year hiatus, Paramore’s long-awaited return was launched with This Is Why in February 2023. Paying homage to their post-grunge roots and taking the lessons from their experimental years, This Is Why is a complex and thought-provoking record. Tracks like “The News” and “This Is Why” touch on more serious subjects than previous albums, hitting ideas around collective suffering and consumption that resonate with the ideals of their audience.
Paramore’s hiatus offered each band member an opportunity to grow as an individual artist. As a result, This Is Why feels more like a collaboration than an album that’s been rapidly pieced together. It’s an impressive feat for Williams, York and Farro to have achieved, as many bands can quickly fall apart amid a break. Instead, each artist has presented their own unique skills to create this record. There’s an element of play, there are familiar sounds that original fans can relate to, and there are new and experimental sounds that draw in new listeners. This Is Why strikes a new balance in Paramore’s discography, making their future exciting while honoring their past.
Check out Chelsea Emerick’s full review Paramore’s latest album, This is Why.
1. Paramore (2013)
Why It’s Paramore’s Best Album
Paramore’s self-titled album is undoubtedly their most widely accessible record. Tracks like “Ain’t It Fun” and “Still Into You” are fun, witty, and instrumentally interesting. Having gone through another round of changes between band members, Paramore had everything stacked against it to become a flop.
Williams’ clever lyrics and striking vocals immediately engage listeners. Proof shows off the magic of Williams’ and York’s ability to balance instrumentals and vocals. Paramore’s sound reaches a new level on the self-titled album. While “Ain’t It Fun” became prominent in graduation ceremonies across the US, “Last Hope” has cemented itself as an uplifting emo anthem. By far the band’s longest record, Paramore is a balanced album that takes the lessons learned from the commercial success of Riot! and Brand New Eyes. This album is Paramore’s best album because it defies the expectations of a regular pop-punk band’s growth.
Paramore showcases the pivotal moment when Paramore went from a commercially successful pop-punk band to a group that created a positive influence on their ever-growing audience. They took their own personal experiences and combined them with the lessons they’d learned from being part of the music industry to create an album that resonated with listeners. They put in time and energy to produce something that defied what previous records had done, which was to be short, fast, and loud. There are breaks between songs, interludes, and fun riffs that feel as if York and Williams enjoyed collaborating. As a result, it’s still one of Paramore’s most popular albums.
Share Your Thoughts on Paramore’s Best Album
What do you think is Paramore’s best album? Share your thoughts on this list and Paramore’s six studio albums in the comments below.