By Josh Schonfeld

“Hard Times” continues Paramore’s trajectory into a Maroon 5-style band that utilizes rock elements into their now-pure pop tracks after gaining popularity as a garage band.  Gone are the days of a heavy drum line and a barrage of noise to express their frustration with the world à la “CrushCrushCrush” and “Misery Business.”  Continuing in the vein of “Ain’t It Fun,” Paramore has mellowed out and incorporated synths into their repertoire to create a funky 80s vibe that I’m okay with.  While I still rock out to their old punk songs on occasion, it’s nice to know that a band has grown up with you and has also shed (most of) the angst.

Upon first listen, “Hard Times” is a completely different sound for Paramore as Hayley Williams channels Blondie over a jarring “She Blinded Me With Science” synth line.  It’s not until the next day when you find yourself singing the chorus to yourself that you realize this is very much a Paramore song and fits perfectly into their discography.  Sure, I’m doing the robot instead of headbanging, but the instrumentation still has some meat to it and the lyrics are just as self-aware as ever.

After a decade of rocking out with Paramore, “Hard Times” is a refreshing low-key track that can still get your blood pumping on the dance floor.  While some may yearn for the old Paramore, it’s important for a band to push their sound and progress as they grow older along with their fans.  Sure, it won’t please everyone, but at least it shows they aren’t going to settle for mediocrity.