I’ve always been aware of Paramore and their pop-punk rock music, but I’ve honestly never been that much of a fan. Outside of Hayley William’s undeniably great voice, they’ve never had a record that really intrigued me. They were good, but sounded like many other acts out there when they were at the height of their popularity. So it was much to my surprise when I heard their first single in almost four years and it was wildly different than anything I had heard from them before. It was the first time they’ve genuinely intrigued me and I had to find out how After Laughter actually turned out.
I’ve always approached Paramore under the assumption that they were a pop leaning punk-rock band, but After Laughter is an awesome throwback to the dance heavy pop of the 80’s. The record is bright, bouncy, and full of energy that’s hard not to get swept up in. It was honestly surprising and refreshing, and while I didn’t necessarily love the sound at first, it grew on me immensely over the course of it’s 12 tracks. The album opens up at breakneck speed with “Hard Times”, “Rose-Colored Boy”, and “Told You So” all sounding as bright and feel good-ish as you’d expect from someone with an idealistic vision of the 80’s but who actually hasn’t lived through it. Things aren’t always on this cotton candy high however and by the end of the album flashes of their old punk-rock inclinations do start to peek through.
“If I was you, I’d run from me or rip me open You’ll see you’re not the only one who’s hopeless Be sure to put your faith in something more I’m just a girl and you’re not as alone as you feel We all got problems, don’t we? We all need heroes, don’t we? But rest assured, there’s not a single person here who’s worthy”
While the production on After Laughter is wildly different than their previous works, they are still truly a punk outfit and that shines through in their writing. It’s actually a weird dichotomy between their lyrics and their production that somehow works. Even on the brightest and seemingly happiest of productions, Hayley will be lamenting about life’s woes and speaking on society with a level of cynicism like only a true punk band could. They’ve truly crafted something special with After Laughter and pulled off an improbable comeback with an album I never knew I wanted.
Have you heard After Laughter? What’d you think about it? Were you as surprised by their new sound and direction as I was? Let me know in the comments below and be sure to leave your own ratings and reactions for the album.
After Laughter was a surprising return from the traditionally pop leaning punk-rock band that not only managed to reinvent and reinvigorate their sound but has made me a fan in the process. Their 80's pop influenced sound combined with Hayley's still great vocals and punk musings made for an unexpectedly great combination.