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 

Single Review – Paramore – Told You So

Ahead of the release of their sixth studio album ‘After Laughter’ on May 12 Paramore release new single ‘Told You So’. Continuing the surfer guitar and pop-fuelled energy of first single ‘Hard Times’ the track’s themes are worn on its eighties track-suited sleeve. ‘Told You So’ centres on shifting friendships, lead singer Hayley Williams; ‘felt like there were people kinda waiting to tell me that they knew what the outcome was gonna be, and I was the only one who didn’t see it.’ But the song isn’t as bitterly resentful of past friendships as perhaps it could have been, due to the band’s personal experience. This is a track about living through – okay maybe pun intended – hard times to realise that the place you end up because of it isn’t really all that bad.

Hayley Miller

Single Review – Paramore – Hard Times 

Paramore are back with new single ‘Hard Times’ and it’s hard to believe it’s been over three years since the trio released their last pop-infused self-titled album. But with a dramatic change of lineup (saying goodbye to hipster-facial-hair bassist Jeremy Davis and reuniting with former drummer Zac Farro, who it always felt only left the band he loved under the influence of a certain ex-paramore guitarist) meant the band experienced some difficulty in the build up to their latest release. Which could be one reason ‘Hard Times’ continues Paramore’s brightly coloured re-imagining of late eighties bittersweet pop in the bitter-sweetest of ways. A little more The Cure meets Cyndi Lauper the track is just as sugar coated as ‘Ain’t it fun’ using Taylor York’s spiked guitar lines and Farro’s rippled drum loops to counter the songs lyrical themes. Focused on returning from a depressive experience, reaching back from a dark hole into neon lights and loud shirts ‘Hard Times’ is another excellent example of Paramore intertwining emotional bruises with glitter and confetti. All this is reflected perfectly in the tracks accompanying video, which sits somewhere between ‘Take On Me’ and the memory of an animation featurette on Sesame Street and would you really expect anything less.

Haley Miller 

This Weeks Music Video with Courtney Barnett, Francis and the Lights feat. Bon Iver and Kanye West, Wild Beasts, Crystal Castles, Death Grips and Chvrches feat. Hayley Williams