Paramore - After Laughter
Paramore's last record was self titled and signified a shift in their style. The Warped Tour days felt like they were waning, and a more grown up Paramore with something to say was emerging. This is what critics will tell you, but there is something else going on: Paramore have always been fucking great. With their original breakout they got lumped in with the pop-punk slash emo set, and the description was apt but they always had a lean towards pop with surging guitars and bassy song structures. Those emo days are in the past as After Laughter has the band taking a synth heavy almost New Wave stance which sounds just fantastic. Lead single "Hard Times" was the absolute perfect choice to introduce this version of Paramore to the world. It has this almost tropical upbeat vibe but then the lyrics are about being in a terrible mood. The whole album sort of follows this formula with a bright musical bed being the support for Haley Williams' more emotionally charged lyrics. "26" is the albums sentimental heart filled with an acoustic and swirling strings, Williams goes on to recount the disappointment that comes once the realities of adulthood really set in. After Laughter is a reminder that sometimes life sucks but it doesn't mean you have to stop dancing.
There is no shortage of absolute heaters on this record with potential hits from "Pool" to a clear standout "Forgiveness". The record does slow a bit in it's second half with songs like "No Friend" being just some music under a spoken word bed from Aaron Weiss. It is an odd choice for the second to last track, but it has the effect of snapping you out of whatever pop lull you may have been in before the powerful closing piano ballad that is "Tell Me How". The conclusions Paramore reach on this record are so grown up, yet right on the pulse of what's happening now. Usually pop music is about being young, but this record shows some hard earned experience is not such a bad thing, and having your heart broken once in awhile is just a part of living. It seems like everyone you ask deep down loves Paramore, but never shared it with everyone else for who knows why. Well now it's ok to admit it, without any guilt, Paramore are simply fantastic and this new record is an absolute achievement. Do not let this album slip by, every song is worth it.
9.4 out of 10