After Laughter: An Album Review
Paramore’s new album, “After Laughter,” is a 1980’s pop-rock daydream; with its unorthodox album cover to its despondent lyrics laced in anguish and fear of the future, the lyrics sound raw and untouched. Released in 2017, the album is composed of twelve distinct tracks, featuring strong female lead, Hayley Williams, Taylor York on guitar and Zac Farro on drums. With the band’s sudden disappearance after releasing their 2013 self-titled rock album, they made a perfect comeback with a classic 80’s aesthetic, and to say the least, shocked longtime fans and amused critics.
Countless artists of 2017 and 2018 have bravely strived to integrate the sounds of the 70’s and 80’s into their music, but few are as magnetic and ambitious as Paramore’s approach on this current trend. For this album, the former emo-rock band parted ways with their old style and welcomed the beginning of a new chapter, heavily taking musical inspiration from classic bands and artists such as the Talking Heads, Cyndi Lauper, and Blondie. This new wave sound creates an edgy aura, while the lyrics flow to the tempo of the song and help paint a picture of Williams’ personal struggles. Catchy guitar riffs, bouncy synths, and dynamic vocals aren’t the only things that stand out on this album: Williams sings of uncertainty, betrayal, and anger.
Many of the songs off of this album are credited towards issues within the band, as well as Williams’ longtime struggle with depression and insecurity. You can find lyrics dealing with this in a melodious song called “Fake Happy,” “I been doing a good job of makin’ ’em think/ I’m quite alright/ But I hope I don’t blink/ You see it’s easy when I’m stomping on a beat/ But no one sees me when I crawl back underneath,” Another one of the album’s best-selling singles is the illustrious “Hard Times,” an upbeat pop tune with a gloomy outlook on life, as the opening lyrics read, “Walking around/ My little rain cloud/ Hanging over my head/ And it ain’t coming down…” In an interview with The Guardian, Williams speaks of her ongoing battle with creating and producing new music and states, “Honestly, I don’t know.. We, for some reason, kept showing up and kept writing and, little by little, the songs got better and we got a little more inspired to do it.” While numerous lyrics off of this album speak of anxiety and doubt, there is another point of view Williams sings about, which is reconnecting with past friends. A song like “Grudges” illustrates this perfectly. When Williams sings, “Are you recounting all my faults?/ And are you racking your brain just to find them all?/ Could it be that I’ve changed or did you?“ it can be assumed that Williams was singing about bandmate Zac Farro, as he had left the band in 2010 with his brother Josh but rejoined for this album.
After being released for a year, the album has gained a lot of popularity and praise, especially among older Paramore fans. Talking with Kimberly Williams, she expressed her love for the album and the new style by saying, “The whole album is just great. I really like how they have a mix of cool 80’s music, it just sounds really nice.” The difference between their last and their newest album is definitive, crucial even, and shows the monumental amount of progress the group has made over the years. With their ever-evolving style, who knows what will come next.