Album Review: Paramore – After Laughter

Despite it’s neon-tinged, pure pop sound After Laughter sticks close to Paramore’s angsty roots

Rating:  ★★★★☆

Paramore are a group plagued by bandmate disputes, from their high-profile split with the Farro brothers in 2010 to the departure and ensuing legal battle with ex-bassist Jeremy Davis. Now reconciled with ex-drummer and founding member Zac Farro, the band are embarking on their next chapter.Initially, the neon-tinged vibes and

Initially, the neon-tinged vibes and pure pop sound of After Laughter seem a complete departure from the angst and heartbreak of Riot! and Brand New Eyes, but the old Paramore still lives on under a new guise. Lead single ‘Hard Times’ echoes the world-weary frustration of their earlier releases, while ‘Grudges’ chronicles the band’s reconciliation with Zac Farro just as Brand New Eyes recorded the pains of Paramore’s initial split.

The album sees singer Hayley Williams at her best. Amid the soaring falsettos and seething shouts, we hear her voice at its most mature, its most natural. Much of the pain on the album is deeply personal, with Williams criticising the media’s idolisation of her in ‘Idle Worship’ and lamenting the loss of a friend in ‘Forgiveness’. The mood is of growth and acceptance, a far stretch from the bitterness and anger that tinged their earlier albums.

From its sorrowful lyrics to tropical-pop sound, this release documents a band that is done trying to please. The relief of reconciliation is mingled with the pains of acceptance, and after five albums it is clear this is a band done with dwelling on anger.
This album might not be what Paramore fans expected, but it seems as though Williams and co. are done with expectations. With After Laughter, Paramore are embracing sugar-coated pop as the remedy to the controversies of their past.

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