Album Review: Paramore – After Laughter

credit: Lindsey Byrnes

After all that has happened in Paramore’s history, it would be completely understandable if they decided to call it quits. Luckily for us, they didn’t and are back and better than ever with their newly released fifth album After Laughter

Paramore has dipped their toes in the pop in the past, with the Grammy-winning song ‘Ain’t it Fun’ from their 2013 self-titled record. It takes guts for a band to continuously put out music that sound different from their previous work and Paramore continues to do so. 

The album is a stride in a new direction for the band with a heavy dose of 80s pop mixed in with their native emo lyrics which could redefine what pop music is. Paramore’s new album with blaring bass lines and blindingly bright melodies is made for Summer road trips and dancing solo in your bedroom. 

The first track on the album, 'Hard Times' is the lead single from the album. The upbeat melody contradicts the painful lyrics and sets the tone which is continued throughout the album.

'Rose-Colored Boy’ continues the theme of electrifying and bouncy melodies that ‘Hard Times’ started. The dazzling track is a smokescreen which masks the essence of the lyrics.

The record takes a step back from the cheerful melodies with the song ‘Fake Happy.’ Williams pours her heart out with poignant and honest lyrics. This song is the personification of the record with the understanding that underneath Williams’ bright and bubbly personality is deep unhappiness. Williams also comes to the realisation that she is not the only one who feels this way: everyone in one way or another is “fake happy.” 

Williams touches on the rekindling of her friendship with Zac Farro and addresses him returning to the band after he left in 2010 in the track ‘Grudges’. The rollicking, rolling track is nostalgic and addictive. 

The weirdest track that Paramore has released to date is the song ‘No Friend’ which has the vocals from mewithoutYoufrontman Arron Weiss. The vocals are frantic but are overpowered by aggressive drumming, echoing baselines, and frenzied guitars. 

A personal favourite on the record is the track ‘Pools’. The new-wave 80s pop inspiration is in full force. Williams' syrupy voice is enchanting with lyrics that will be stuck in your head for days.

Williams’ vocals in the last song on the album ‘Tell Me How’ feels like honey is being poured straight into my ears. Her voice is smooth and soft and creates an emotional experience with the lyrics on full display and is a fitting closure to the record.

The bright melodies in 'After Laughter' are an illusion. What lies beneath are lyrics that are raw and dark. Williams does not sugar coat anything with lyrics like “For all I know / The best is over and the worst is yet to come” from the opening line of ‘Told You So’. In 'Caught in the Middle', Williams repeats the line “No, I don't need no help / I can sabotage me by myself.” 

Catchy hooks and clean, perfectly balanced instrumental layers, and honest lyrics create a dreamy cathartic album. After Laughter is a survival record that it is telling you, “it’s okay to be sad, you’re not alone, and you will get through this".

Written by Megan Venz

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