After the Farro brothers’ acrimonious departure from Paramore, all eyes were on the remaining members of the band – guitarist Taylor York, bassist Jeremy Davis, and singer Hayley Williams. What kind of music would they create without one of their principal songwriters?

That’s a difficult question to answer. Their first album without the Farros, the self-titled Paramore, is certainly technically proficient. York and Davis have stepped up their game, and studio drummer Ilan Rubin is phenomenal. Williams has somehow improved her already fantastic voice. But while it was previously pretty easy to say that classify the band’s music as post-hardcore-tinged pop-punk, Paramore sees them experimenting with everything from post-rock to country-pop to even gospel. The record is a joyful, wanton mishmash of genres, and miraculously, it works…but just barely. It always seems as if it’s just about to burst at the seams and fall apart. It’s an overstuffed album that suffers from a problem of excess, and I can’t help but feel that Paramore pushed things a little too far.

There’s a lot to love about Paramore. It’s bookended by two of its best tracks, the infectious dance-punk tune “Fast in My Car” on one end and the sprawling post-rock jam “Future” on the other. Elsewhere, the band recalls its best minor-key work with the anthemic “Now” and the intense “Part II,” the latter of which is a callback to Riot!‘s “Let the Flames Begin.” The sunny, synth-inflected pop of “Grow Up” is a lot of fun, and the band even gets funky on “Ain’t It Fun.” This willingness to do different things is what keeps the album from feeling like a slog over its lengthy 65-minute playtime.

But even though Paramore keeps things fresh, 65 minutes and 17 tracks is hella long for an album. It’s clear that there’s some filler here, like the misguided faux-punk jam “Anklebiters” and the boring “Hate to See Your Heart Break.” And after a while, some of the production decisions start to grate. Why does everything feel like a wall of sound? Does every song seriously need a string section? And what’s with that gospel choir in “Ain’t it Fun”…were plain old gang vocals not good enough?

It’s almost as if the remaining members of Paramore overcompensated for the Farros’ departure by trying to record the biggest, grandest album that they possibly could. Aside from the tossed-off ukulele interludes, everything about Paramore seems huge and momentous, and that feeling becomes wearying after a while. I can’t help but believe that the band could have made a truly great album if they had just scaled things back a bit. It’s to producer Justin Meldal-Johnsen’s credit that Paramore doesn’t sound overproduced, even with all the excess; unlike a lot of other pop producers, he’s not eager to sand off a band’s rougher edges. He lets York’s distorted guitar screech and wail, and he allows the bass to play snaking lines instead of just repeating roots. Still, he indulges Paramore’s excesses too much, and he just doesn’t know where to trim the fat.

I’m sure that some listeners will accuse the band of “selling out,” but Paramore is too weird and too eclectic to be a calculated stab at commercialism or arena-filling relevance. What it seems to be is a statement of three musicians’ boundless ambition. For the most part, that ambition leads to enjoyable results. However, ambition without bounds can sometimes take things a step too far. No matter how well-intentioned their ambition is, Paramore’s self-titled album is a little too much.

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