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Punk-poppers Paramore show their hard edges only some of the time

November 08, 2007|August Brown

For Hayley Williams, the vocalist of ascendant punk-pop quartet Paramore, sexuality is a tool that can be used for good and evil, and sometimes for both at once. On her band's breakthrough single "Misery Business," she wins back a crush who'd been lured away by a brazen hussy. "What's a whore? You're nothing more, that'll never change," she taunts. "I never meant to brag, but I've got him where I want him now."

Finally, an emo hit in which the boy gets reduced to a sex trophy. "I had to watch this chick use sex like a machete, and it really hurt me," Williams said. "But what was shameful is that that's what I was really feeling afterwards."

If Paramore's rousing post-Sunny Day Real Estate fare has more strident feminist intentions, so far they're only implied. But Williams' outsized, ocher-haired persona is an anomaly in the black-hoodied morass of the Warped Tour set, and the Tennessee-based band's recent album "Riot!" looks to follow chart breakthroughs from Fueled by Ramen labelmates Fall Out Boy and Panic! at the Disco.

It's exciting to imagine Paramore's future with the kind of platform that heavy rotation on KROQ and a sold-out Wiltern gig can offer. Williams may be only one Le Tigre record and a Bitch magazine subscription away from becoming a Corin Tucker for the Facebook crowd, and it needs one. But that's a fight the very young band (Williams is only 18) intentionally hasn't taken up yet.

"It's weird to watch this explosion and wonder if music was needing this," Williams said. "But we don't think of ourselves as a 'girl-fronted' band, we don't want to be stuck in that."

Similarly, Paramore's latent Christian influences are a source of much unwanted stereotyping. Much like peers Underoath and Anberlin, Paramore couches any spiritual struggles in nonspecific lyrics. But Williams isn't shy about citing her faith as a bulwark against teen angst. Like sex, it's all in how you use it.

"In the U.K., it's even a tabloid thing, people call us goody-goodys and attack our faith," Williams said. "But faith is part of what makes us different, it's why we're not hard-asses all the time."

-- August.Brown@latimes.com

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(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

PARAMORE

WHERE: Wiltern, 3790 Wilshire Blvd., L.A.

WHEN: 7 p.m. Wednesday

PRICE: $25

INFO: (213) 388-1400

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