There is no denying that Paramore are one of the most remarkable bands of this generation. Platinum albums? Check. Grammy winners? Check. Two cruises where the band headline every night in the middle of the ocean? Check. With one of the most recognisable and simply put, rad back-catalogues of all time, it is understandable why After Laughter, Paramore’s fifth-studio album, has been so widely anticipated. Seeing the return of original drummer, Zac Farro, the album marks a notable shift in Paramore’s musical direction- with an unashamed nod to the eighties era of new-wave, an undertone of summery indie guitar and a pinch of bubblegum pop choruses. However, what is clear with After Laughter, is Paramore’s lyrical content is not all ‘laughter’. In fact the lyrics are some of the most raw and pessimistic the band have ever written, emphasising Williams’ and co.’s hardships and struggles from a songwriting standpoint.
Album opener ‘Hard Times' truly sets the precedent for the album with catchy bubblegum pop, a ridiculous catchy crescendo of a chorus and an outro so synth, Blondie would be jealous. The throwback to the 80s does not stop here, ‘Rose-Colored Boy’, ‘Told You So’ and ‘Pool’ all follow the same trend, but with an combination of unapologetic sugar-coated indie-pop.
It is hard not to hear out for melodies and guitar tones throughout the release that are signatures of indie-pop outfits like Bombay Bicycle Club, HAIM and The 1975. It is fair to say Hayley Williams’ voice does lose its signature edginess at times, and tends to get a little lost under the whimsical sound of twangy guitars and symphonic ditties. Nonetheless clear standouts come mid-album. The chorus of ‘Fake Happy’ throws nostalgia to songs such as ‘Playing God’ and ‘Turn it Off’, demonstrating that Paramore can create a hybrid of both the unfamiliar and familiar.
This is contrasted by the acoustic guitar, use of strings and fusing of Williams’ harmonies within ‘26’. ‘26’ is nothing short of brilliant, and a real highlight on the album, lending itself to the captivating sound of The Civil Wars and vocalist Joy Williams. After Laughter is a definite must listen and is sure to satisfy both die-hard fans of Paramore, and due to its distinctive indie-pop sound, open up a multitude of new fans. Arguably this is not Paramore’s finest album, but it is evident that After Laugher will certainly be a contender for album of the summer.
Review by Kate Harrison