Former emo kids, it’s time to dust off the black nail polish and eyeliner because Paramore is finally back. After a five year hiatus, the beloved rock band, which currently consists of frontwoman Hayley Williams, drummer Zac Farro and guitarist Taylor York, returned with the release of their new single “This Is Why” on Friday, Sept. 28. Along with the single and accompanying music video, Paramore announced that their new album, also titled “This Is Why,” will be released on Feb. 10 of next year.

Paramore first started teasing their return in early September, when each of the group’s members changed their social media profile photos to an image of their face pressed against a droplet-streaked glass surface. Fans also found that the band’s official website had been completely altered — the main page is reduced to a plain white background with a list of dates, some of which corresponded to a vague event like “9.12 – L A” or “9.19 – start spreading the news.” In the time since the meaning of these hints has been revealed- for example, on Sept. 12, LA tour dates were announced. A Discord link was also posted on their website, where Paramore has since been sharing tour and music updates as well as other exclusive previews such as snippets of new songs. The cryptic activity culminated when, on Sept. 16, Paramore announced they would be dropping a new single on Sept. 28.

Many fans were excited for the single, not only because of how long it’s been since the group’s last release, but also for a reason that might sound odd to anyone who’s not a longtime Paramore listener — Williams’ hair color. For those who aren’t in the know, Williams is known for dyeing her hair vibrant shades of color for each album era, but probably her most famous look was the fiery orange hue she took on when the group first debuted with “All We Know Is Falling” and continued to rock during the following release of “Riot!,” the album that catapulted them to mainstream success. However, since 2017, when the group released “After Laughter,” their last album before going on hiatus, Williams has been maintaining her natural blonde color. In fact, Williams’ hair color wasn’t the only change to come to Paramore that year. In spite of positive critical reviews, “After Laughter” sparked heated controversy among fans because it was the first time the band completely departed from the emo, head-banging genre they had championed for years. Instead, the group experimented with brighter, funky, 80s-inspired pop, which some decried as them “selling out” (in fact, the album is excellent and illustrates the group’s then untapped musical range).

Thus, when previews of the new music video were released showing the return of Williams’ iconic orange hair from Paramore’s heyday, many excitedly thought this was a sign that the group was returning to their original, punk rock sound. And while in many ways, “This Is Why” honors the music and look that made Paramore a household name, the record also demonstrates the band’s continued sonic evolution and versatility. It sounds less like one era in particular and more like a fresh take on everything they’ve done before.

The song begins with a funky guitar solo from York before steadily progressing into Williams’ opening verse. Never one to pull her punches, Williams begins the song with a cold piece of advice — “If you have an opinion / Maybe you should shove it.” Her delivery, biting and dripping with attitude, is straight from Paramore’s angsty teenage years. The song’s chorus, however, is funky and fun. It makes listeners want to dance and shout its addicting, sing-talky melody, even if the lyrics, such as “this is why I don’t leave the house,” are much gloomier than the mood the instrumental and delivery evokes. In this way, the record feels reminiscent of “After Laughter” which, for all its synth and groove, was a deeply melancholic album chronicling Williams’ recent heartbreak and mental health struggles. In “This Is Why,” Paramore has once again mastered the art of making listeners want to dance as they cry. The end of the song is especially addicting, with a satisfying key change that climaxes with Hayley belting out “oh why?” drawing out the syllable of the final word in pace with Farro’s furious drumming and York’s rippling guitar chords.

Lyrically, the chorus feels like a reference to quarantine and how, even now, it feels difficult and scary for some to leave their homes after spending so much time confined within them. But less obtusely, it also seems to be referencing the struggle the band, and especially Williams, have had with the spotlight, especially in an age where one misstep can earn a celebrity the scorching wrath of millions of online users. It wouldn’t be the first time Williams has discussed her troubles with fame. For example, in the song “Idol Worship” from “After Laughter,” she describes the suffocating pressure of being adored and mythologized by fans as someone perfect and infallible, which she knows will only end in her inevitably letting those individuals down. The music video also seems to reinforce the idea that the track is about the difficulties Paramore has experienced as a public figure. Throughout the video, the group is constantly being filmed by a production team, giving the impression that everything they do is being carefully monitored and directed.

A highlight of the video is Williams’ always captivating charisma. In some scenes, she wildly sways and gesticulates while passionately singing each phrase and in others, she twirls and high-kicks her way across the screen. York and Farro are also featured prominently in the video and, in one scene, catch Williams as she falls back into their arms. Some fans have speculated that this moment in the video might be a moving reference to how York and Farro have supported Williams throughout the band’s career and especially through some of her emotional hardships, particularly her grueling divorce from Chad Gilbert during the “After Laughter” era. In spite of the difficulties, feuds and changes in members that Paramore has experienced over the years, the lasting endurance of York, Farro and Williams’ bond and the childhood friendship that catalyzed the group’s formation is touching to witness. It’s clear the three have never been in a stronger, more stable place both as friends and bandmates, and that their lengthy hiatus provided them with the space and much-needed break they needed to return better than ever.

With such a fantastic lead single and exciting new sound, fans can only hope Paramore will be leaving the house again sooner rather than later.