Paramore’s ascent to one of punk-rock’s most popular outfits has been against a background of line-up changes, particularly with founding members leaving and returning. Most recently, Zac Farro returned as drummer for this, album number five, which has already spawned a sold-out UK tour next month, which then moves to mainland Europe.
If you’re waiting for Paramore to return to the guitar-driven youth pleasers of their first two records, then you’ll need to wait for at least another record. This follows up the softer direction indicated by their self-titled release and loses any inhibition to try a different sound. The results are, frankly, remarkable. ‘Hard Times’ is tropical pop, while ‘Rose-Colored Boy’ shimmers effortlessly with hooks aplenty. ‘Told You So’ is peppered with synthesised licks, ‘Fake Happy’ has a delightful juxtaposition of solemn acoustics and electro stomp, and ‘Grudges’ couldn’t be any chirpier. The piece de resistance is the closing ‘Tell Me How’, a piano-based ballad that gradually builds, but avoids the temptation to go over the top.
Catchy songs do of course make for a good album, but where ‘After Laughter’ excels is hinted at in the title itself – it is lyrically full of despair, doubt and sadness in general. As chief wordsmith, Hayley Williams talks of the best being over, giving up on relationships and mortality, amongst other issues. Ironically, the move away from the stereotypical ‘emo’ sound makes her delivery more affecting, particularly against soundscapes that are almost uniformly upbeat. It’s a combination that breathes new life into Paramore and whilst it is inevitable that some core fans will be alienated, in other circles this will announce them in glory.
Listen to the closing trailer 'Tell Me How':
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