Ah, youth: the exuberance, the energy, the blistering highs and bottomless depths. Its an ideal breeding ground for true rock & roll belief. Hence, the youngsters of Paramore unearth geysers of loud, sugary angst on Riot!
, their major label debut and follow-up to 2005s All We Know Is Falling
. Small-town musicians who have played together for years, Paramore boasts the appeal of an emo-pop blast developed out of savvy songwriting and musicianship. The sweet spot the band hits--somewhere between Avril Lavigne and All-American Rejects--comes naturally. Lead singer Hayley Williams, barely 18, has big-time vocal depth and genuine charisma besides, and while her singing can sound a little contrived, she delivers with such end-of-the-world conviction that its an easy flaw to forgive. Bright and catchy melodies abound, but songs like Misery Business and Miracle also feature razor-sharp cadences and ultra-clean transitions. Too clean, actually. The production is crystal clear, which accentuates the stumbles (mostly on the ballads) and robs these whippersnappers of the messy highs they surely achieve playing live. But some things cant be entirely glossed over, and while the more aged among us will sip our Scotch and make fun of their adolescent shenanigans, well also be surreptitiously listening on our iPods after we put the kids to bed. --Matthew Cooke