Paramore’s fifth studio album After Laughter was released on May 12th and for long time fans, the sound of this album is definitely far removed from their older tracks. I must admit, the first time listening to it I felt underwhelmed. At first I thought that all the tracks sounded pretty similar, a techno beat under Hayley Williams’s vocals, which weren’t sang as heavy or brashly as they were in albums such as Riot!.
However, after listening to the album through again a couple more times I was hooked. The vocals and drums may not be as heavy and alt rock as they used to be, however the lyrics are still classic Paramore, as angst about Hayley’s relationships and her take on life have always been a massive influence on each album.She may not shout as many of the lyrics anymore, but you can still feel the emotion in her voice. After Laughter explores feelings of anger, loss and hopelessness after loosing someone who was important part of your life, as the band recently experienced when Jeremy Davis left the band in late 2015.
The synth pop feel to the album comes at the perfect time for summer, and tracks such as Rose-Colored Boy and Fake Happy have such a peppy up-beat tune that if you’re only half listening you might mistake them for happy songs. However their lyrics bring a very cynical and pessimistic view to life with lyrics such as ‘You say “We gotta look on the bright side”,I say “Well maybe if you wanna go blind”‘.
The older ‘classic’ Paramore sound comes through in tracks Idle Worship and No Friend as Williams cranks up the anger and desperately shouts lyrics about not wanting to be put on a pedestal or seen as a saviour. The emotional rollercoaster continues in tracks 26 and Tell Me How as the tone becomes more sombre and you can hear Williams struggling with feelings of hopelessness and wondering if she can let go of those feelings in order to move on.
For me, the juxtaposition of the up-beat tunes and downhearted lyrics is for me what makes the album special. Yes this album may be sleeker and more pop than punk but it definitely still has the hallmarks of Paramore. For old fans of the band I’d give it time to grow on you as it is different but I would highly recommend giving After Laughter a listen!
By Hollie Luck
6th June 2017
Imaged Credit: Paramore