By Rhiannon Levengood
After four long years, Paramore has finally blessed our ears with a brand new record. After Laughter embodies the feelings that stress, depression, uncertainty, love, forgiveness, and even regret bring us. As defined by front-woman Hayley Williams, After Laughter is the face one makes after laughing when reality becomes real once again. She told iHeartRadio:
“[It’s] 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.”
With this new album comes a new sound, and the Paramore we all fell in love with back in 2005 has grown and refined their sound. The vibe is definitely more pop-rock than their original classic rock sensation, and even includes more synthesizers to keep up with modern mainstream music while also hinting at 80’s pop music.
We can’t describe the record as a whole, so you can find our personal impressions of each jam below:
Track: Hard Times
Impression: As Paramore’s first single from After Laughter, this song introduces us to their new sound, which utilizes their typical guitar/bass/drums structure, but adds in effects that alter the instrumentals. It’s a hopeful ballad that illustrates the strength it takes to power through life’s trying times, even when you’re close to rock bottom.
Favorite Lyric: Tell my friends I’m coming down, We’ll kick it when I hit the ground
Track: Rose-Colored Boy
Impression: This track deviates completely from Paramore’s original sound. It has a boppy feel that makes it difficult to resist dancing to. The story depicts the frustrations with being told to simply be happy when you’re depressed. It’s not that easy to switch moods, and sometimes, we just want to wallow in our sadness for a while. Describing the boy as rose-colored sets an allusion to a happy-go-lucky cartoon with rosy cheeks atop a wide ear-to-ear smile.
Favorite Lyric: You say, “We gotta look on the bright side” I say, “Well, maybe if you wanna go blind”
Track: Told You So
Impression: As their second single, we’re given the impression that they aren’t completely changing their sound. This song describes accepting defeat by acknowledging when you are wrong, and that it’s okay to be.
Favorite Lyric: I know you like when I admit that I was wrong and you were right / At least I try to keep my cool when I’m thrown into a fire
Impression: This track is a lot more mellow than the previous three, but the flow is nice between the songs so far. In “Forgiveness”, Williams is explaining to another person that the pain that that person put her through is hard to forgive. She isn’t sure if forgiveness will ever come, but at that moment, she cannot offer it. She states that if forgiveness happens, she will never forget what the person did. The damage is permanent in her eyes.
Favorite Lyric: There’s still a thread that runs from your body to mine and you can’t break what you don’t see, an invisible line
Track: Fake Happy
Impression: As “Forgiveness” transitions into “Fake Happy”, the calm vibe is still present. However, it changes after the introduction into an upbeat, synthesized track. The lyrics hit close to home as Hayley describes how she hides her pain with a fake smile. She’s fine, even when she’s performing, but deep down, she’s praying that no one asks her how she’s doing, because that’s when she’ll break. This song is relatable for everyone, and she says so in the lyrics.
Favorite Lyric: I been doing a good job of makin’ ’em think I’m quite alright but I hope I don’t blink
Impression: “26” is another serene song with a simple guitar riff driving it forward for most of the track. Because of the quiet instrumentals, we’re able to hear Hayley’s voice clearly. Her vocals are pristine as she tells us how depression has its ups and downs, its good and bad days. And in this song, she’s having a bad day.
Favorite Lyric: Hold onto hope if you got it / Don’t let it go for nobody
Impression: This song has a bubbly pop vibe to it. It’s fun to bop to and brings the record back to the buoyant tempo it started with. The lyrics feel like a follow up to “Forgiveness”, where Williams first refused a second chance. In “Pool”, she describes a love that is somewhat unconditional and always thrilling for her. Through that love, she grants her forgiveness.
Favorite Lyric: If you’re really sorry / Happy second chance, think I could forgive / This time you won’t leave me sinking
Impression: This song is very upbeat and overall vivacious. The message is clear and hopeful as it describes a feud coming to an end and a friendship without grudges beginning again. It’s rumored to be about Hayley’s falling out with drummer Zac Farro.
Favorite Lyric: ‘Cause now I feel you by my side and I don’t even care if it’s been awhile
I can feel that we’ve changed and we’re better this way
Track: Caught In The Middle
Impression: Out of every song on After Laughter, this song is the most relatable. It describes the dreadful feeling of getting older, and the time wasted in the years that pass by. Hayley explains that having a dream is great, but shouldn’t become what you solely live for.
Favorite Lyric: I can’t think of getting old / It only makes me want to die / And I can’t think of who I was / ‘Cause it just makes me want to cry
Track: Idle Worship
Impression: This song is very intense. Hayley’s vocals are almost aggressive over the funky track. It’s hard to not feel intimidated by her when listening. “Idle Worship” is basically about telling someone that you cannot fix them, no matter how much they think you can. It’s about asking them to take you down off the pedestal they have you on, and to stop worshipping you as someone inhuman. The fierceness of the ballad is reminiscent of “Anklebiters” from Paramore’s self-titled album.
Favorite Lyric: 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
Track: No Friend
Impression: This song feels like an outro for “Idle Worship”. The lyrics are hard to hear, but can be found here. The flow from track to track has been really great up until this song, which feels like you’ve smacked into a brick wall and animated birds are flying about your confuddled head. The idea of the song is great because it was written by Aaron Weiss and uses lyrics from previous Paramore songs to tell their story, but it doesn’t fit well into the overall record. This doesn’t make it a bad track, it makes it feel out of place.
Track: Tell Me How
Impression: “Tell Me How” is the calmest track on the album and has a beautiful piano instrumental. It tells the story of a breakup in which the two people involved are no longer on speaking terms. It deals with the uncertainty of how the other person is feeling in comparison to how the narrator is feeling, which is a love that could never really turn into hate. The silence from the other person is painful and the narrator just wants to be told how to feel.
Favorite Lyric: Of all the weapons you fight with / Your silence is the most violent
As the record concludes, you’ll realize the growth and maturity the band has gone through. When you finish, you’ll feel older, wiser, and the most content with life you’ve been in some time. After Laughter is Paramore’s best album since RIOT! in 2007, and definitely a step in the right direction.