Paramore’s first album since their 2013 self titled is quite a departure from their previous style, but I love it. It’s full of sad pop anthems, as foretold by the two lead singles, “Hard Times” and “Told You So”. It also marks the return of Paramore’s original drummer, Zac Farro, since his departure from the band in 2010. This means that the new lineup is 2/3 original band members.
Hayley Williams told iHeartRadio in an interview that
After Laughter is about the look on people’s faces when they’re done laughing. If you watch somebody long enough, there’s always this look that comes across their face when they’re done smiling, and I always find it really fascinating to wonder what it is that brought them back to reality. So, that’s what After Laughter is.
This album does a really cool job of juxtaposing sad lyrics with energetic, fun, dancy music to create Depression Anthems, like “Hard Times”, “Rose Colored Boy”, and “Fake Happy”. This juxtaposition is somewhat similar to the style of Melanie Martinez, though without the creepy-child-from-a-horror-movie vibe. There are a few slow songs, such as “26”, interspersed through the album, which feel almost like an amalgamation of Sarah McLachlan and Evanescence.
I said after “Told You So” came out as the second lead single from the album that, “[a]s much as I would have been in complete disbelief if you sent Paramore’s new songs back to when Riot! was big and told me it was Paramore, I’m really enjoying this new stuff. It could use a bit more depth or breadth but it’s fun and as long as the entire album doesn’t sound exactly like these two songs, I’ll be pleased with it”. Well my wish came true, the album has some variety to it and I love it.
This change in style is significant, but they managed to pull it off (much better than Tonight Alive pulled off the change to pop). Perhaps this comes from the fact that it’s been 8 years since their last album that was in their original alt-pop-rock vein (Brand New Eyes), as the 2013 self-titled was kind of in between styles. The presentation and subject matter also really helped After Laughter.
“No Friend” has vocals taken from fellow Philadelphia band and long-time tour mates mewithoutYou, or at least their lead singer, Aaron Weiss. I can’t tell if it’s a sample or a new recording, but I was incredibly excited to hear it, as mewithoutYou is one of my favorite bands.
Recommended Tracks: “Hard Times”, “Rose Colored Boy”, “Pool”, “Fake Happy”, “No Friend”, “Idle Worship”, “Caught in the Middle”
RIYL: Carly Rae Jepsen, Melanie Martinez, Marina and the Diamonds, mewithoutYou