Being a fan of Paramore for nearly ten years now, it’s satisfying to still see the band stay true to whoever they are. New directions were taken after two of the original members left the band, which allowed the band to truly show their growth through their next project, the Self-Titled album. Hayley and Taylor persisted, however, after Jeremy (another founding member) left the band. According to Paramore themselves in a Beats1 interview, Hayley and Taylor admitted having the conversation of ending what Paramore is. Fortunately, they decided to express their feelings on After Laughter, their latest release.
Within the first track, new and old Paramore fans are hit with a statement that, in my opinion, perfectly describes the recurring theme that peaks through the rhythm in every song. “All that I want is to wake up fine…” states their first single and opening track, Hard Times – a strong opener to the new direction they are currently taking within the band. After listening to HalfNoise‘s (Zac Farro’s band) music, it is evident how much influence he gave towards the writing of this album. I must say, it took me three listens to fully understand what the song was about since, in a way, it was a metaphor of how easily depression can be hidden within a face (or in this case, sound) of happiness.
Rose-Colored Boy further explains the recurring theme of sadness that was first presented in Hard Times. With a feel-good chorus, the song perfectly gives you this half-nostalgic feeling unique to the track. Paramore’s vulnerability in this song can be described as to be in its maximum since Brand New Eyes.
Told You So is undeniably one of Paramore’s best releases to date paired with a music video to accompany Hayley’s experiences of going through a period of depression and anxiety with only car rides to help her be calm, those who are able to relate will surely find a comfort in this song.
It’s evident that Paramore went through a period of reflection of the band in Forgiveness. Those who have watched Paramore in 2010 will know the amount of pressure and drama that Hayley, Taylor and Jeremy went through as a band who just had two of its founding members leave. This track fully reflects on that situation, as Hayley previously talked about and mentioned, her and Taylor talked about the future of Paramore in a cafe and Josh (one of the founding members that left) had walked in – “it’s not a coincidence” as Zane Lowe would say. While the track reflects on the band’s past, it also shows the idea of forgiving someone when you yourself is going through a lot of trouble. “You want forgiveness (I can barely hang on to myself)“, sings Hayley in the chorus.
Fake Happy hangs on to this message of faking happiness while living in the spotlight. As a hardcore fan of Paramore, it’s saddening to hear that one of my idols are going through this since everyone has this pre-assumption that just because our idols are living their dreams, they’ll always be happy – we have to understand that the spotlight is not a utopia. But at the same time, I’m finding comfort in the song to the fact that I can relate. “I should’ve known that things were going good, that’s when I get knocked down”, sings the bridge with a chorus of “ba’s” to follow – a link that some fans may relate to Brick by Boring Brick.
26 is definitely the penultimate track of the main theme that presents itself in After Laughter. With just an acoustic guitar, strings and meaningful words from Hayley, 26 shows the reality of what happened after the Self-Titled era ended.
Pool to me is probably the most indie-pop song I’ve heard from Paramore. With a perspective on a dependent relationship portrayed in the lyrics, Paramore perfectly captures of what it feels like to love someone so much that you’re willing to forgive them whatever the circumstances.
Grudges continue the indie-pop influence that After Laughter presents. It’s a song that can easily be compared to the likes of Young The Giant in terms of its genre. Once again, this song closely relates to the reflection the band undertook while writing the album with Forgiveness as Hayley asks herself “Why did it take us so long to just let go?“.
If I wanted a song to dance to while also being really sad, Caught In The Middle would be the perfect song in that situation. It’s repetitive bridge of “I can sabotage me by myself” is largely relatable to those who often experiences a lot of self-doubt and self-hatred altogether. As much as we like to joke about hating ourselves as a generation, we finally have an album to dance to while doing so.
Songs like Idle Worship makes me wonder why people fully call Paramore a “pop” band when their influences from different genres are heavily evident in songs like this. Bass-filled with a rhythmic beat made full with synths and riffs really make Idle Worship the song that it is. Hayley’s vocals are clearly stronger and more controlled than ever. In addition to that, everything that surrounds her vocals doesn’t diminish it. Rather, it amplifies it. With a smooth transition into an interlude/outro, No Friend features mewithoutYou’s singer Aaron Weiss with spoken word hidden behind the instruments, only in his last words the listener is able to hear what he is fully saying. Nonetheless, the track reminds me of the outro that Part II had in the Self-Titled, reminiscent of Paramore’s roots in a way.
The album’s closer Tell Me How is the perfect finisher to an album representing the spectrum of sadness overall. In just over four minutes, Paramore sums up how it feels to be on the other side of a relationship that abruptly ended with no closure. “Do I suffocate or let go?” asks Hayley on the last line of its main chorus.
With the album nearing to the end, listeners are clearly able to see the array of emotions that the band clearly felt during their break after touring in the Self-Titled Era. And it clearly shows how strong both Hayley and Taylor are after dealing with all of the problems that have come along, as here we are with a new release and with Zac being back.
After Laughter is the perfect representation of wanting to be happy but just not having the enough motivation to do so. It’s the perfect album to dance to while crying. A vulnerability that can be compared to Brand New Eyes’ content is similar and back with a full force, however, it presents itself in a matured way. A growth in each of the members’ personalities are definitely presented in this new release; with each song having individual influences being portrayed, After Laughter as an album is definitely one of Paramore’s standout releases.