Alec Reviews Music: Paramore is back with new sound in ‘After Laughter’

Alec Erickson

Growing up, chances are that you have once listened to Paramore, either as a hardcore fan of the emerging pop-punk scene or as the occasional listener of the Top 40. Regardless of where you stand with the band, it is hard to argue their position within mainstream media. Dominating airwaves with every record release, and being as relatable as possible. It is hard to find something not to appreciate when it comes to the pop-punk powerhouse. Now we have their latest release “After Laughter” and it ditches the punk and embraces the pop.

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Photo Courtesy: iTunes

Paramore, based out of Franklin Tennessee got their start in 2004. Back then the band consisted of lead vocalist Hayley Williams, Josh and Zac Farro along with Jeremey Davis. The band would go on to release their debut album “All We Know Is Falling” in 2005. From there, the band would release an additional three studio albums, and would have constant changes in the lineup. It was only a matter of time until things became uncertain within the band. After the release of their self-titled album in 2013, a breakup seemed inevitable. It wasn’t until this year when it confirmed the band was working on their fifth studio album and the return of Zac Farro on drums were all those fears put aside. This now brings us to their release of “After Laughter.”

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“After Laughter” is a 12-track record that clocks in at around 43 minutes in length. The first thing we need to talk about when it comes to this record is the noticeable tone change. While Paramore ditched whatever aspects made them edgy for the more obvious and blatant `80s influence, it is not a bad tone change. While it can be a bit too much at times, this is still a very strong pop record. This is something fans are sure a bit off put about, but none the less is still a strong record in its own regards.

Musically, the tone shift is something that needs to take a minute to process. If you have been keeping up with the band and this record, then tracks like “Hard Times” and “Told You So” don’t phase you. If you are jumping into this record blind, prepare for the wall of synthesizers that adorns almost every track. After addressing that fact, there are a few tracks that outshine the others on this record. “Pool” is one such track that is just fun to listen to, in a way that screams counter melody-laden `80s synth-pop. Then you get to hear tracks like “No Friend,” which allow the vocals to take a backseat to the bass and rhythm. It is a pleasant sound to hear for sure. Overall, the one thing this record does lack is a more cohesive element throughout the whole project. Tracks struggle to lead into one another and can be off putting at times.

Lyrically, this is some of Williams’ best. You as a listener can tell just how much more mature the band has gotten since they first started out. While this is hard to catch at first with most of the more mature elements hidden behind the light-hearted music stylings of the record. There are tracks like “Fake Happy” that delve a lot deeper than expected and add an entire new depth to the record. If anything can be said about “After Laughter” it is that it is not as surface level as it would lead you to expect. Tracks like “26” and “Caught In The Middle” deal with a lot more serious tones than you first would expect. Even with all of that, the record ends with “Tell Me How.” This track struggles in the long run in following up “No Friend” and is actually bit too soft for Williams’ vocals and performance. It is one of the few tracks that struggles in comparison to the rest of the record.

Should You Listen To It?: Maybe

“After Laughter” is a hard record to judge. While it is a fun record and there are some great moments within it, it is not the best Paramore record by any means. This record struggles in maintaining an interesting and different style throughout the entire project to keep listeners entertained. This is one of the few records that I cannot stress enough how important it is to pick and choose what you listen to. “After Laughter” is a good return to the scene for Paramore; it just isn’t a good return to form.