Album Review: Paramore – After Laughter

Paramore after laughter

Paramore does pop on their own terms
It seems like a lifetime ago that Paramore conquered the world with their punk pop hits like ‘Misery Business’ and ‘Brick By Boring Brick’. Their latest album was released in 2012 and this break from recording gave them enough time to make some major changes in the band’s line up. Drummer Zac Farro who initially left the band back in 2010 is now back while bassist Jeremy Davis decided to pack his bags and leave. With this new formation, their sound naturally changed and became more poppy than ever before. Poppy on their own terms of course!

Paramore returned to the spotlight recently with the fun and upbeat single ‘Hard Times’ that is all about funky guitars and a tropical sounding production. The follow up ‘Told You So’ followed the same synth pop trend that took elements from the 80s and placed them in the now and saw the band rocking stylish bright coloured outfits in the video. Not everything on their new record After Laughter is upbeat and colourful though. The swinging and uplifting melodies often contrast with the not so happy lyrics.

The best example of course is ‘Fake Happy’, in which a catchy synth hook makes place for a more guitar driven chorus. Lead singer Hayley Williams confesses to often fake her emotions, sporting a smile while she actually feels awful. On the playful ‘Idle Worship’ she addresses being put on a pedestal while she knows that sooner or later she will disappoint her fans and would rather want to be treated as ‘just a girl’. Lyrically, Paramore is as sharp as we are used to and might even be more personal than ever before.

After Laughter might be Paramore’s poppiest effort so far with the use of quite some synthesizers, but that does not mean they left their guitars at home. The laidback ‘Forgiveness’ is a laidback tune based on a bass rhythm that could easily have been a part of a HAIM album. ‘Pool’, which is absolutely one of the best tunes on the album, is an upbeat and infectious track with subtle use of rocky guitars in the verses, while the chorus properly soars with beautiful vocal work by Hayley.

Of course this Paramore record would not be complete without a few proper ballads. They absolutely deliver with the fragile ’26’ and the absolutely heartbreaking album closer ‘Tell Me How’. The guys and lady of Paramore show that they have evolved with After Laughter, but they have never compromised anything that makes them a unique and still very much relevant band in 2017.

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