Album Review: Paramore – After Laughter by Mark Wong
It hasn’t exactly been smooth sailing for Paramore over the past year. After going platinum with their self-titled album Paramore, bassist Jeremy Davis left. To make matters worse the band also had to settle a legal dispute with Davis over their funky tune Ain’t It Fun. So with only lead singer Hayley Williams and guitarist Taylor York remaining, surely it was time that they called it quits?
Album Review: Paramore – After Laughter
After Laughter opens with Hard Times. At first I wasn’t sold on the song as it had stripped back a lot of the elements that defined Paramore’s sound. However that’s not to say it isn’t brilliantly composed. The tribal drumming and afrobeat tinged guitars can be compared to new wave pioneers Blondie and Heart of Glass. York can also be heard singing through a vocoder towards the end of the song.
Other features such as the bellowing vocals on Hard Times prove that After Laughter is essentially a throwback to 80’s new wave music. It can be argued that the album was partially influenced by drummer Zac Farro’s indie project Half Noise since he officially returned to the band this year. Like a lot of Paramore’s records, the themes mostly revolve around the internal struggles that they’ve experienced as a band. After Laughter is no exception. However on this album in particular, Williams’ lyrics have become darker and more cynical.
“Like a lot of Paramore’s records, the themes mostly revolve around the internal struggles that they’ve experienced as a band…However on this album in particular, Williams’ lyrics have become darker and more cynical.”
Rose-Colored Boy is a perfect example of this as Williams explores the harsh reality of life “Just let me cry a little bit longer/I ain’t gon’ smile if I don’t want to/Hey man, we all can’t be like you/I wish we were all rose-colored too”. Williams’ reinforces her point by using an analogy of a ‘Rose-Colored Boy’. The ‘Rose-Colored Boy’ symbolises someone who has a positive outlook on life.
While After Laughter explores a variety of genres, it can be argued that Told You So has influences of math-rock. This can be heard through the complex spiralling guitar riff. The irregular patterns in Told You So shows how fearless York was to push Paramore’s sound into a completely different territory.
Fake Happy is about masking your sadness around others “If I go out tonight, dress up my fears/You think I look alright with these mascara tears?/See I’m going to draw my lipstick wider than my mouth.” Fake Happy has an unusual structure as it begins with a basic acoustic guitar strumming pattern and William’s sad reverby vocals. After this it transforms into a funky synth-pop anthem. The catchy hooks that Fake Happy internalises are absolutely sensational.
Acoustic ballad 26 is similar to Paramore’s previous efforts such as Hate to See Your Heart Break. The gorgeous violins sections bolster William’s gentle delivery. 26 will certainly tug on your heartstrings.
“After Laughter is the most exciting record that Paramore have put out. It’s hard to believe that it was written at a time when both Williams and York were ready to give up the profession altogether…It pays a beautiful homage to 80’s artists like Talking Heads and Blondie.”
Pool’s glistening soundscapes perfectly mimic what it would sound like if you were actually under water. Williams uses the metaphor of swimming in a pool to describe how life constantly presents you with barriers to overcome “As if the first cut wasn’t deep enough/I dove in again ‘cause I’m not into giving up/Could’ve gotten the same rush from any lover’s touch.”
Caught In The Middle almost sounds like a Strokes song due to the reggae guitar patterns it possesses. After Laughter’s only issue is the track No Friend. While the song contains interesting melodies, MewithoutYou’s Aaron Weiss’ vocals are frankly disappointing. The song is also mixed rather strangely. Weiss’ vocals are buried deep down into the mix which makes them almost inaudible. This part of the album could definitely have been put to better use.
After Laughter is the most exciting record that Paramore have put out. It’s hard to believe that it was written at a time when both Williams and York were ready to give up the profession altogether. After Laughter wholeheartedly embraces genres such as new wave and synth pop music. It pays a beautiful homage to 80’s artists like Talking Heads and Blondie.
The Breakdown | Album Review: Paramore – After Laughter
After Laughter is a unique record that’s laced with 80’s new wave and synth pop influences. Who would have thought that Paramore would replace rock elements with afro-beat music? Incredible results.