by Sarah James
After four years, Paramore has returned with their fifth studio album, After Laughter. This synth-driven retro album leans heavily on the pop side of music, and is a departure from the guitar-laced alternative rock of Paramore’s past. However, this album is still authentically Paramore, and details frontwoman Hayley Williams’ struggles with maintaining the band.
The two singles released for the album, “Hard Times” and “Told You So” set the tone for this genre-shifting album. Both songs sound straight from the late 80s, full of bass and synth in a way that’s sure to make you dance. Many other songs on the album stick to this sound, such as “Pool” and “Rose Colored Boy.” However, what separates these songs from other synthetic pop music on today’s market are the lyrics. Each song is a window into Hayley Williams and her struggles with keeping this band together. She opens up about how she’s been feigning a smile in “Fake Happy,” and in “Caught in the Middle”, she talks about her regrets from the past as well as apprehensions of the future.
Mixed in with the funk are two stunning acoustic ballads: “Forgiveness” and “26.” When first listening through the album, they seem a little out of place. They are simplistic and showcase the brilliance of Hayley Williams’s vocals. “Forgiveness” is heartfelt and sentimental, and the pseudo-country ballad “26” sounds like something off an early Taylor Swift album. Paramore has done ballads before (“The Only Exception” off of Brand New Eyes comes to mind), yet these two most recent ballads have an extra layer of depth and maturity to them. Williams wasn’t sure if Paramore would continue to make music, and these songs, along with this entire album, truly reflect that.
While some fans have been critical of this new sound, Paramore has come back strong with After Laughter. Each song is fun to listen to and easy to dance to, yet upon closer inspection, they offer a deeper connection to the artist. And isn’t that why we love music?
“Rose Colored Boy”
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All images from Billboard
'After Laughter' is a funky and intimate insight into Paramore’s struggles as a band. The album is fun and energetic with a groove you can move to, but it also provides an honest look at Hayley Williams and her opinions of her career.