After Laughter: A Review of Paramore's Renaissance

Paramore: they were once the emo day dream of our youths. With sharply cut bangs, hot topic clothing, and lyrics charged on teenage angst, they were the signature pop punk band of the 2000’s. But after years of internal struggle their latest album After Laughter is a revival of their image when all they really wanted to do was give up.

Paramore have never been one to show the world their conflicts, with the only real evidence that they faced struggles amongst themselves being the leaving and re-joining of members through the bands history. Four years after the release of their self-titled album, the band have opened up about the toxicity that swarmed the band and how although they love creating music, Paramore itself just seemed to be associated with negativity. With the painful exit of Jeremy Davis and the open letter published by ex-lead guitarist Josh Farro (the elder brother of Paramore’s current drummer, Zac Farro), it became hard for the band to keep going. Taylor York opened up in an interview with The Guardian newspaper, stating that he was “…just numb. It was just another drama and another example of being in a band and it being really difficult, and feeling bad about that.”

Yet despite all the pain they’ve come out with After Laughter, a tribute to the pain they're facing and a way to express all thatss been trapped up over the last few years.

It’s a brilliant rebirth of Paramore’s old sound, and although it has been noted that it’s a long distance away from their previous albums - All We Know Is Falling, RIOT!, and Brand New Eyes - it has that same crisp 80s sound that their Grammy award winning “Ain’t It Fun” had.

After Laughter displays a lot of contrast which creates a unique tone to this album. The tunes are very heavily influenced by 80s pop with melodies consisting of synth, Afrobeat inspired guitar and rapid paced drums, whilst the lyrics are dark and brooding. This conjures up a kind of optimistic sadness vibe, with the current singles “Told You So” and “Hard Times” being upbeat, dance-y tracks, which is also seen in their other songs such as “Rose-Colored Boy”, “Pool”, “Grudges”, “Idle Worship”, and “Caught In The Middle”. The cheery sound makes it difficult to even notice the darkness of their lyrics, like those displayed in the second single off their album, “Told You So”:

"For all I know
the best is over and the worst is yet to come.
It is enough
to keep hoping when the rest have given up?"

Mixed amongst these perky sounds are a lot of moody and seething songs. “Forgiveness” and “Fake Happiness” are a soft transition from the upbeat to the more downbeat, keeping the similar guitar style but at a much slower pace and with a darker bass line. The tracks “26”, “No Friend”, and “Tell Me How” bring the album to its darkest points and in the process they really expose how much Williams was battling with. Her anxiety, confusion, and anger are brought to light in these tracks, showing the confusion Williams is facing over if she is the self-centred diva the Farro letter said she is, or if having grown up in the high-pressure environment of being musicians created tension or toxicity that has led to everyone lashing out at what they perceived as an easy target?

"Man, you really know how to get someone down.
Everything was fine, until you came around"

After Laughter is a powerful, emotional album that feels like sour candy on the ears. It’s brilliant, colorful pop music, and yet it leaves a bitter taste from the lyrics that strike a chord with anyone who has felt belittled, confused, depressed, or angry.

"No, I don't need no help
I can sabotage me by myself"

Overall, this is a fantastic pop-rock that still holds true to Paramore’s origins but shows the growth that a person is forced to make in times of hardship. It’s a continuation of their “too pop for rock, and too pop for rock” style and a perfect mechanism to help the band get over the biggest hurdles in their life and include their loyal fans in that journey.

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