It’s been a whirlwind of a month for Tenessee trio Paramore. With the release of their 5th album ‘After Laughter’ hitting shelves a little over a month ago, fans have had the time to really sink their teeth in to a completely new sound.
Moving away from the days of head banging riffs, After Laughter shows how the band has matured. Despite losing a member, then regaining an old member, Paramore have successfully created an album that is both fun, yet lyrically gritty in places.
The album starts with Hard Times, the first single produced from the album, and the first song that determined how fans would react. A balance between a feel-good, 80’s style beat combined with hard hitting lyrics from the start: “All that I want is to wake up fine, tell me that it’s alright, that I ain’t gunna die”. Front woman Hayley Williams’ vocals still stand out like they did in previous albums, yet the instrumental coming from band mates Taylor York (guitar) and Zac Farro (drums) creates the dynamic contrast between the sugar-coated song and the more serious lyrics.
Following on is Rose Coloured Boy, another song filled to the brim with 80’s synth pop. The new route Paramore have taken with this new album is heavily rooted within these first couple of songs, and continuing to show how the band are growing in a more sophisticated manner. Along with the second single Told You So, the first three songs of the album show consistency in style, which keeps up throughout the album.
Forgiveness and Fake Happy start to slow down the album in preparation for 26, the emotional acoustic song slap bang in the middle. Though somewhat inspirational, 26 really pushes the thoughts of the band through a slow and meaningful manner. It strays away from the boppy synths that the other tracks hold, and takes the listeners away for a few minutes to wind down. Once the track is over, it takes no time to jump straight back in to the pop style with Pool.
It is clear that Zac Farro’s return to Paramore after 6 years has been truly appreciated by the band, as the solid drum progressions throughout the album is as strong as ever. Grudges also hints at the reconciliation between Farro and Williams and York. A song about letting go of what happened in the past to create a stunning piece of work. “We just pick up, pick up and start again because we can’t keep holding on to grudges” really hits home with both fans and bands, and we know that for the time being Paramore are in a good place with the music and each other.
We’re then thrown in to Caught in the Middle, a song which sounds very much like Williams is shouting ‘don’t let me grow up!’, which in a way could relate to the route this album is taking as a whole. “I can’t think of getting old, it only makes me want to die” – a depressing and pessimistic start to the song almost instantly, and the lyrics don’t get any brighter from there. With the bridge consisting of “No I don’t need your help, I can sabotage me by myself”, the album has taken a darker twist towards the end, and it doesn’t stop here either. Idle Worship sounds like Williams is trying to shake off her female idol status that she’s gained over the years. Combined with an eerie construction, the song although catchy, comes off as spiteful. A kick in the teeth, showing the albums true colours behind the facade of bouncy tunes.
The album comes to a close with No Friend (featuring Aaron Weiss from mewithoutYou) and Tell Me How. A soft close to the album is Tell Me How, with quieter synths coming in half way through to keep with the original feel of the album, yet the dominant piano backing along with Williams’ compelling vocals. An easier listen in comparison to the other tracks makes for a perfect closing song to a well thought out album.
After Laughter, although a wide jump musically from the previous albums, is a well structured and creative piece of art. A new route shows the band are happier with themselves, and they have found release within the process of the album. Paramore have successfully pulled off this new era of recreating themselves, keeping their loyal fanbase in the mean time.