In 2005, the members of Paramore were just teenagers and back in the beginning of the 2000s in the USA there were many white angsty teenagers from the suburbs who were forming bands. But there were also many female pop-punk stars and Hayley Williams seemed to fit perfectly into that role, except she didn’t want it. Instead, her dream was to be in a band with her three friends: Josh Farro, who played guitar and wrote songs with her, his brother Zac, who played drums, and Jeremy Davis, who played bass guitar. Atlantic, the record label that had signed her, didn’t find that very convincing, but they finally partnered with Fueled By Ramen, because they thought a smaller label could help them build a fanbase.
This is how a group of teenagers flew to Orlando to record their debut album. Only two years later, they would release another album, Riot!, and would become part of the new emo sensation with hit singles such as “Misery Business” and “That’s What You Get”. However, All We Know Is Falling shows the band’s first steps were quite heavier and different than from that scene. Hayley recently shared a playlist Zac made for her when they met: Hum, …And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Death, Sunny Day Real Estate and Failure are among some of the names, as well as Gorillaz and Elliott Smith — a combination of influences that anticipates the intimate, dark and yet still poppy sound.
However, it wasn’t easy. As soon as they arrived in Orlando, Jeremy decided to step back from the project — he would rejoin the band shortly after the album was released. When Jeremy left, Paramore decided the album should be about his absence. The shadow in the cover represents him and even the album title refers to something changing — it’s funny because they were just teenagers, so one may ask: what was exactly falling if they were just beginning? But it also shows how passionate they were about this band and their friendship.
All We Know Is Falling opens with an explosive one-second guitar riff and drums that are immediately followed by Hayley’ strong vocals demanding: “We’ve tried so hard to understand but we can’t. We held the world out in our hands and you ran away”, (clearly referencing to Jeremy’s departure). After only half a minute in the song, we’re already introduced to all the forces of Paramore. Teenage years are generally stereotyped like that: over-the-top emotions that seem a little bit exaggerated when we grow up, but All We Know Is Falling is far from sounding like a joke.
Josh’s guitar has always collided against Hayley’s vocals: they are both powerful and loud, full of energy and anger, at the limits of being too overwhelming. They could work so well together because, on one hand, they could control themselves to create tension. And on the other hand, there is Zac’s drumming. The beat always marked the mood of Paramore’s songs; this is the reason why his comeback to the band in 2016 (after he left in 2010) was so celebrated by fans.
All We Know Is Falling sounds like the soundtrack to a foggy rainy day. Even “Here We Go Again” might start with a danceable beat, but in the chorus, the drums get heavier, the guitar more spacey and the vocal melody slows down as if it was harder to get through all that nostalgia. In “Never Let This Go”, the verses have a delicate guitar melody and the quiet and almost apathetic vocals sing pessimist lyrics (“One day you’ll get sick of saying that everything’s alright. And by then I’m sure I’ll be pretending just like I am tonight”, and yes, Hayley was just 16 when she wrote this), but as soon as the chorus comes in, her voice shatters in a straightforward cry: “I don’t want to let you go, but I can’t find the words to tell you”. In “Brighter” she uses the same contrast trick and it works beautifully too, especially in the last chorus when she starts singing at the top of her lungs, giving the song an unexpected very intense ending.
“Pressure” is a hint of Paramore’s future pop-punk songs. The beat is straightforward, the riff is fast and it has a big catchy chorus. As many of her emo peers, Hayley always wore her emotions on her sleeve (“‘cause I fear I might break, and I fear I can’t take it. Tonight I’ll lie awake feeling empty”) and this is what led thousands of teenagers to love these bands. All We Know Is Falling capture the gloomy feelings of adolescence that society didn’t talk about back then (and is barely talking about them now). In “Franklin’’, the drums sound as a curtain of rain while Hayley slows down to sing about how going back to her hometown after recording an album would make it all different. That nostalgia is even more present thanks to Josh’s backing vocals that sounds as if he was emotionally tired, surrounding her like a ghost.
In 2005, Paramore was part of the Warped Tour, and Hayley and her band members discovered the music world’s toxic culture. They made them play at the Shiragirl stage, where only bands with female members played (as if they weren’t good enough for other stages), and also, men in the crowd thought it was a good idea to throw condoms at Hayley. Times have luckily changed and Paramore isn’t the same band either. Not only because of the lineup changes but also because their music has changed — and a lot. In spite of all this, when they play one of the tracks of All We Know Is Falling they still play them with the same passion as when they were teenagers. They aren’t embarrassed of their teenage selves, and instead they embrace those songs as a part of them.
Many consider All We Know Is Falling just a draft of what would become Paramore. However, in 2005 the band members were truly conscious of what they were doing. Hayley’ lyrics many times talk about the ups and downs of being in a band and there is no better song than closing track “My heart” to demonstrate how committed they were to this project. Here, the production is cleaner to join Hayley’s voice that sings softly until the melody culminates with Josh’s hardcore vocals. “Sing us a song and we’ll sing it back to You/We could sing our own, but what would it be without You?” Hayley sings in the chorus and Josh later screams: “Please don’t go, please don’t fade away.” Paramore has always been very open about their christianity and they’ve stated “My Heart” is about their faith, which makes this song even more genuine, as if it was a request to God to join them in this musical journey they were just beginning.