Paramore – After Laughter Review 


Paramore’s new album ‘After Laughter’, released May 12, continues the band’s experiments in a sound leaning ever more towards the gleaming synth-pop side of pop-punk. Addictively catchy opener, and standout single, ‘Hard Times’ and it’s follow-up ‘Told You So’ are both so heavily drenched in surfer guitar and pop-fueled energy it’s difficult to remember a time when Paramore wasn’t so sugar coated you might actually require a filling or two after listening. But with Hayley Williams cutting skill at songwriting, the air of candy coating is never too sickly. 
Wearing the band’s love of all things eighties like a crumpled tracksuit, or a painfully high scrunchie, Taylor York’s guitar seems to effortlessly recreate the slick sound of the Talking Heads and the Bangles. allowing the album to glitter in its alt-pop misery, whilst still managing to create a sound that seems vibrant. 

‘Rose-Colored Boy’ sees the juxtaposition of slick production and gloomy lyrics used at it’s best, a technique that runs throughout the album like Robert Smith whispering in Williams’ ear at his most despondent: ‘I just killed off what was left of the optimist in me’. Though there are also little echoes of Bruno Mars in the double dutch in the street backing here as well as a fabulous amount of feminist undertones: ‘I ain’t gonna smile if I don’t want to.’ 

While the punching sound of Williams fighting back against misogynistic viewpoints and the disintegration of friendships is evident throughout each track, not every song is an endless swirl of synths. There are subtle moments that bring things close to a raw pain. ‘Forgiveness’ see’s the album’s themes shimmer in the warm LA waters of Haim. And ’26’ is a stark reminiscent drifting: ‘Hold on to hope if you’ve got it, don’t let it go for nobody.’

Tracks like the gloriously brutal ‘Fake Happy’, ‘Pool’ and ‘Grudges’ seem to perfectly reflect the insecurities of an Instagram masked generation. As well as the ‘holy sh*t I’m nearly thirty’ sound of ‘Caught In The Middle’: ‘I can’ think of getting old, it just makes me want to die.’ 

Where the album starts out youthful and energised things end in a more mature form of alt-pop, as Wendy Rene once sang ‘after laughter comes tears’. A bitterly truthful air continues to form in ‘Idle Worship’ before things fall into even darker reflections within the Williams-less ‘No Friend’ and the Haim-like sound takes hold once again in the layered cascading piano lines and whispered backing of closer ‘Tell Me How’. 

Over all ‘After Laughter’ seems to show a maturing of the Paramore’s pop-rock sound. There is still dance-able fun to be had but it seems Williams would like to mix in some not so subliminal musing on the modern world and the friendships we form within it. 

With a whole new album to tour – which they recently announced will have them joined by CA jangle-pop band Best Coast – and the announcement of their second PARAHOY cruise – due to set sail in 2018 – the next few years look pretty busy for Paramore.

Paramore – After Laughter = 8/10

Hayley Miller 

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Comments

  1. I honestly have do idea how they did it, achieving a more matured sound after coming off such a mature album prior. Lyrically, they chart through such narratively bleak territory, yet the album is so unbearably dance-able and catchy. Again, I’m at a complete loss as to how they conveyed all this pain through candy-coated sweetness. I suppose that’s the magic of Paramore. Awesome review!

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