Bands are among the best when it comes to teasing fans about new music–and Paramore has recently taken the crown. Over the last few months the band has been hinting to new music, and one month ago, Paramore dropped a new single, music video, and album announcement. And after another month of excited waiting, Paramore released their third studio album, titled After Laughter, on Friday May 12.
Like everyone else, I had high hopes for this album, especially after hearing the single “Hard Times.” And they were definitely not disappointed! The album’s musical theme is upbeat, techno beach rock/80s pop. Many bands try to create music that’s reminiscent of a past era, but Paramore successfully created an album that could’ve almost seamlessly fit into the 1980s pop scene.
After Laughter reminded me of The Maine’s Lovely Little Lonely, in the sense that both albums were done so cleanly and cohesively. Neither experimented with several sounds/genres on different tracks, but rather went with one kind of sound/genre and took off running with it.
The lyrics of the album, meanwhile, contrast drastically from the poppy brightness of the music. The lyrics reflect a maturity unheard in Paramore’s earlier music. Frontwoman Hayley Williams’ voice conveys a more weary, realistic tone as she sings about fake friends, doomed love, and faking “I’m okay,” to name a few topics. As someone who’d rather hear songs like these than songs about sex, successful relationships, and partying, I enjoyed this.
My favorite tracks were easily “Hard Times,” “Rose-Colored Boy,” “Fake Happy,” and “26.” Although my favorites constantly change every time I listen to this album!
Opening track “Hard Times” made me think of strolling along the boardwalk in summer with friends or an S.O. It’s funky, upbeat, and was the perfect teaser track for the album. As this song was the first new music from Paramore since the band’s self-titled album in 2013, it definitely caught people’s attention. Also, musically this song was completely opposite from all we had heard from the band until then.
“Rose-Colored Boy” talks about Williams’ struggle with depression, and how her husband Chad Gilbert (New Found Glory) struggles to help her cope with it. Interestingly, this song initially seems to be a “piss off” song to the guys who think they can tell girls how to act or “just smile.” It’s also relatable to those who struggle with anxiety, depression, or any other mental health issue and have loved ones who don’t totally know how to handle it.
“Told You So” is the second single off After Laughter. Based around the hated phrase “I told you so,” this track is about the stress of being constantly watched by others who are just waiting for you to mess up. I like how this song incorporates a calypso beat/sound.
“Forgiveness” is a message to someone who keeps hurting you, yet they want you to forgive them despite that. To me, it’s a standing-up-for-yourself song: it’s the moment when you realize you have to put your mental health and happiness first, and cut out the toxic people. As someone who’s had to learn this lesson herself, a song like this was reassuring. It reminds you that it’s okay to sometimes cut out the negative people in your life.
“Fake Happy,” easily one of the most relatable tracks, is about everyone’s dislike for phony people, yet we often have to fake at some point or another. “26” is a “letter to my younger self” song for Williams; this gorgeous acoustic track from Paramore felt like the older, more matured version of “The Only Exception.” “Pool” talks about the relationships/romances that are real and dark, not necessarily the ones of stereotypical romance songs. “Grudges” is about Williams’ feelings on the situation with drummer Zac Farro, who left the band and recently rejoined.
“Caught in the Middle” was my least favorite track. It just didn’t catch my ear like the other songs. It’s not a bad track, but it’s just not a personal favorite. The song itself is about Williams talking about growing up and watching the years go by.
“Idle Worship” is where the album starts to feel more serious, musically. The song is Williams confessing to fans that she’s not the pop punk queen, or “idol,” that the media and fans alike have turned her into. The roughness of Williams’ vocals on this track–clearly from emotion rather than strain–as well as her tone during the spoken parts, added a needed heart-wrenching touch to the track.
Curiously, “No Friend” features MeWithoutYou frontman Aaron Weiss–but Williams doesn’t sing on this track. Like, at all: it’s all done by Weiss. I must say this was an interesting choice. Pairing the deeper male vocals with the most serious-sounding track added a heaviness that makes “No Friend” feel simultaneously out of place and fitting.
The piano-based “Tell Me How” closes out the album. I like that Paramore chose to close out the album with a track like this; I think after such a hyper album, taking the softer root was a smart move. It eases you out of the album in a smooth, calming way.
Weigh in, fellow Paramore fans! What did you guys think of After Laughter? Yay or nay to the new sound–and if nay, tell me why in the comments below! And let me know what your favorite songs were!
Like what you hear? Go follow Paramore on Spotify, and check out their website for more info about the new album, their upcoming tour, and more! You can also follow Paramore on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram. For more videos, subscribe to their YouTube!
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