Strongly agree with this. My personal take is that it’s the album she needed to make, but that doesn’t necessarily make it a coherent artistic statement. I might even go so far as to say that she knows that, to the extent that as these songs were forming in her mind she knew it couldn’t be a Paramore record. It’s wildly inconsistent and far too long.
I have read a collection of essays by women over the last few days that - while they have not changed my mind on the album - have given me an appreciation for what it means to other people whose experiences I can never start to understand.
I also have to say every time I hear one of these songs played live, I like it more. Dead Horse stands out like a sore thumb on the album but the Tiny Desk Bedroom Concert version is fucking great.
Thanks for the shout-out - every time I get someone into Spanish Love Songs I feel like I’ve recruited them into my personal cult.
What I would say @JohnnyPark is that they are, fundamentally, a pop-punk band which doesn’t really sit with most of the bands you listed (even more true of Schmaltz, which is somehow even more pop-punk despite taking a NOFX-style ‘hook-but-no-chorus’ approach to the songwriting).
And Dylan’s vocal choices are not for everyone (one friend complained about the “bleating” which has now become a running joke between my partner and me). But like @Avery said, Brave Faces Everyone was the perfect album at the perfect time and somehow only became more perfect as the year ground on.
All that said, I think Routine Pain is one of the best rock songs of the last ten years and I get it stuck in my head at least once a day. Dylan is a very smart guy, a Proper Writer if you will, and having heard some songs that didn’t make the cut for the album, it’s really interesting hearing how he’s repurposed lyrics from other songs. There’s a single line in Routine Pain, for example, which started life as the chorus to another song yet it works far better on Routine Pain. There’s a lot more thought that’s gone into this album than your average Plaid Emo release.
Going to shut up now, I could talk about this band all day