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February 2021

Paramore - After Laughter

★★★★★
Paramore - After Laughter
Published: 10:09 am, May 15, 2017
[vc_row css=".vc_custom_1494842952538{margin-bottom: 10px !important;border-bottom-width: 5px !important;border-bottom-color: #0a0a0a !important;border-bottom-style: solid !important;}"][vc_column width="1/4" css=".vc_custom_1429970165982{margin-bottom: 25px !important;}"][vc_single_image image="40871" img_size="full"][/vc_column][vc_column width="3/4" css=".vc_custom_1429970174266{margin-bottom: 25px !important;}"][vc_column_text]Quite probably the best pop album of the year, 'After Laughter' is more than just another record.

Label: Fueled By Ramen
Released: 12th May 2017

Rating: ★★★★★[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text css=".vc_custom_1494842929114{margin-bottom: 25px !important;border-bottom-width: 5px !important;padding-bottom: 25px !important;border-bottom-color: #0a0a0a !important;border-bottom-style: solid !important;}"]“Oh please, don’t ask me how I’ve been, don’t make me play pretend.”

That, right there, is the thread of Paramore’s fifth album, ‘After Laughter’. After years of internal shifts, line-up changes, allegations and legal disputes, it’s no shock that they’d find themselves feeling more than slightly shook up by this point. What’s remarkable is how they’ve used it to make what in many ways is their best album so far.

Because there’s absolutely no doubt about it, that’s what they’ve done.

You can split Paramore’s history into two distinct halves. Their first three albums, up to 2009’s ‘Brand New Eyes’, are packed with youthful rebellion, raging against the growing pains. Even though that third album saw relationships breaking down, the fire burned hotter than the sun. They were the torchlight of a scene shining bright.

But by the time 2013’s self-titled record came round, they were different people. Some of that DNA remained, but it was replaced by the invention of a band realising their horizons were as wide as they wanted them to go. Dealing with the damage of losing the Farro brothers in a messy divorce, rather than drill down, they looked up to the stars. Unusually for a band in their position they reached them too, on their own terms. To suggest even four years before Paramore would have written a song like ‘Aint It Fun’ would to be laughed out of town. With a Grammy win behind them, it’s them who got to wear the knowing smiles.

And then it all crashed down again.

With bassist Jeremy Davis leaving in another messy (but thankfully marginally less public) breakup, Paramore were down to two. It’s that dynamic that colours the underbelly of ‘After Laughter’. That, and the way they found their way back from the brink.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text css=".vc_custom_1494842935769{margin-bottom: 25px !important;border-bottom-width: 5px !important;padding-bottom: 25px !important;border-bottom-color: #0a0a0a !important;border-bottom-style: solid !important;}"]‘After Laughter’’s defining character isn’t the breezy, 80s pop vibes that run throughout. It isn’t a change in sound which manages to be both evolution and revolution in the same note. It isn’t even the fact that, despite all the odds, Paramore may have found themselves as the most important rock band on the planet, while not really playing traditional rock music as they grasp that crown. Instead, it’s the energy that’s kept the wheels turning that defines a remarkable record. The opposing poles of lyrics and music that run throughout don’t just repel, they spin. Fast.

While on first listen lead single ‘Hard Times’ sounds like a tropical, Talking Heads informed bop, under the surface it’s a muddle of darkness, all awkward feelings of revenge and defiance built on self-doubt. While their peers sing about platitudes and cliche, Paramore are different. We know what they’ve been through. We know that this is painfully real.

Much of the album carries a similar theme. “For all I know the best is over and the worst is yet to come,” Hayley Williams ponders on ‘Told You So’. Her doubts about reforming the band for another record are well documented, but committed to record that juxtaposition stops being a downer. Instead, when coupled with guitarist Taylor York’s sparky invention, it turns into a strange form of defiance. With a determination to force that smile and drag themselves back up, the new Paramore don’t really know their own strength. They don’t just find their feet, they break the stratosphere.

‘Fake Happy’ deals with that need to put on the brave face, filled with lines that show - whether an internationally famous musician or a down to earth fan - the thought patterns aren’t that different. It’s that which proves that Paramore have finally blossomed something greater, even if they don’t realise it themselves yet.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text css=".vc_custom_1494842943116{margin-bottom: 25px !important;border-bottom-width: 5px !important;padding-bottom: 25px !important;border-bottom-color: #0a0a0a !important;border-bottom-style: solid !important;}"]‘After Laughter’ isn’t all downers and sprinkles, though. If there’s a spark that’s brightened the darkness, it’s the return of drummer Zac Farro. If dynamics are important to a band, the newly reminted trio glow like a city full of day-glo neons. Despite everything that’s gone before, there’s no impression of an awkward truce. Instead, it’s glorious, and it creates some moments of true joy.

‘Grudges’ feels like Paramore fixing themselves from within. Lyrically, it’s the chink of brightness that bursts through - an obvious ode to repaired friendships that’s bathed in the spirit of all three members. By the time Zac’s vocal comes in, the feeling of unfiltered hope is enough to form goosebumps.

The album’s most immediate moment is a different beast entirely - but if it’s a sign of where Paramore go next, it’s impossibly exciting. ‘Rose-Colored Boy’ is a salted caramel - a place where the twin peaks of ‘After Laughter’ crash against each other. Carefree on the surface, underneath its turmoil bubbles away. Working as both a brilliant pop banger and a statement on the modern condition, it’s the calling card for Paramore’s ascension to the very top.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]That suggestion that Paramore might now be the most important band from their scene possibly doesn’t go far enough. It’s also one they’re actively rejecting. ‘Idle Worship’ spells it out in forthright terms. “Be sure to put your faith in something more,” Hayley pleads, but in claiming not to be superhuman what she highlights is exactly why she has been placed on the pedestal in the first place.

This isn’t simply about Paramore producing what feels like the best pop album of the year. Sharing everything, it’s hard to think of another band on this scale who offer such honesty on such a grand scale. Those thoughts within, they’re not alien to the rest of us. They’re not worries about shifting units or hard life on the road. They’re the same struggles we feel just with the plot lines on a more public stage. Imposter syndrome, relationships, the constant internal warfare of a self-doubting mind - they’ve all been lived through too, not written to create an impression of something else. That’s why Paramore matter. They’re not up there because we expect them to be perfect. They’re there because they’re most definitely not, and yet still, with everything seemingly out to get them, they’re trying to do the right thing.

If we get the heroes we deserve, it’s a reluctant crown Paramore will have to get used to, safe in the knowledge that pillar isn’t made of stone but rather the well placed faith of a whole legion of fans who feel a part of something bigger. If they happen to fall on occasion, we’ll catch them, because we understand. With Paramore, we can identify. We’re the same. In their own words, Paramore is at least Hayley, Taylor and Zac, but in the same breath, it’s not just three people. It’s all of us. More than ever before, we are Paramore. Stephen Ackroyd[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css=".vc_custom_1429970289830{margin-top: 25px !important;margin-bottom: 25px !important;}"][vc_column][vc_video link="
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