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Paramore's 'After Laughter' Shows A More Modern, Mature Sound: BUST Review

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As a fan of Paramore for roughly ten years, I was ecstatic upon finding out the news that they were releasing a new album. The album’s first single, "Hard Times," was practically all I was listening to for days - the catchy melody getting stuck in my head.

The album, After Laughter, released on May 12th is wildly different from anything the band has done previously. The sound leans more '80s synth-pop than the pop-punk tunes Paramore became known for.

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A running theme in this album, the follow-up to their 2013 self-titled one, is letting go of the past - of old pain, old friendships, betrayals, etc.

"Rose-Colored Boy," the second track, features an upbeat tune juxtaposed with melancholy lyrics. “Just let me cry a little bit longer,” Hayley Williams sings. “Ain't gonna smile if I don’t want to.” I love how these lines are about openly expressing your true emotions and not having to smile just because - something many women are told to do, often by men.

"Fake Happy," the fifth track, starts out with an acoustic, low-fi, indie intro and then leads into a tune more in line with the rest of the album. The song, much like those lines I love in "Rose-Colored Boy," talks about having to fake emotions and hide what you’re really thinking/feeling. Williams no longer wants to be “fake happy,” and comes to realize that lots of other people might be faking their happiness as well just to keep up appearances.

"26," the sixth track, is an acoustic song all the way through. It seems to be a sequel to the song "Brick By Boring Brick" from the band’s 2009 album Brand New Eyes. "26" deals with themes such as growing up, facing reality, and reminiscing on the past.

"Pool," the seventh track, caught my attention with the eerie yet beautiful chimes in the introduction and throughout the song. The lyrical themes in this song, like water, reminded me of Paramore’s single "Monster," released in 2011.

The eighth track "Grudges" seems like a follow-up to Brand New Eyes’ "Ignorance." The band has had a rough past, with members coming and going. Like how "Ignorance" was likely aimed at Josh Farro, the band’s old guitarist and Williams’ ex (who with his brother Zac, the drummer, left the band in 2010), this track could be related to Zac’s rejoining the band this year. “Well, we just pick up, pick up and start again. 'Cause we can't keep holding on to grudges,” Williams sings.

The ninth track, "Caught In The Middle," has some funky blues-like feels in the melody. The song seems to be about feeling trapped in the middle of childhood and adulthood and grappling with that shift.

The tenth track, "Idle Worship," is the most classically Paramore song in the whole album, in my opinion. I could sense the frustration in the angsty way Williams sings this song, which seems to be about fans who worship her instead of seeing her as a human with flaws. “Oh, it's such a long and awful lonely fall down from this pedestal that you keep putting me on,” she sings. “What if I fall on my face? What if I make a mistake?”

"No Friend," the eleventh track, is the most unique on the album. The song features Aaron Weiss of the band MeWithoutYou, Williams’ favorite group. It has a spooky, angsty sound as Weiss makes references to Paramore’s history, including the album RIOT! and the songs "Misguided Ghosts" (from Brand New Eyes) and "Ankle Biters" (from their self-titled album).

Overall, this album was refreshing. Though different from any of the band’s previous sounds, I found myself tapping my toes and dancing in my chair throughout listening to it the first time. As a long-time Paramore fan, I’ve loved being able to see the band evolve so much from their old-school emo tracks like "Pressure" (the first Paramore song I ever heard) from their first album All We Know Is Falling to their modern, more mature sound.

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Top image: Still from "Hard Times" 

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Rafaella is a graduate of The New School, where she majored in journalism and minored in gender studies. She's passionate about feminism, LGBTQ+ rights, combatting online harassment, and ending herpes stigma. Visit her website: ellagunz.com

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