Thursday, 18 May 2017

Paramore - After Laughter

Paramore - After Laughter

"Have Paramore always been this poppy?" I was asked earlier in the week. It's true that the band have slowly evolved from their emo-rock origins, but they've always been pop. Now they're just embracing it more.

The band's self-titled album from 2013 was something of a reset after a shift in line-up, straddling the border between their earlier sound (Fast In My CarNow) and a lighter more melodic sound (Ain't It Fun, Still Into You). Now with 'After Laughter', as the pastel coloured artwork suggests, the band have delivered something far brighter and funkier - some might even say poppier.

Opener Hard Times dazzles with its tropical guitar strums and 80s pop vibes; Rose-Coloured Boy features a fun cheerleader refrain; and Told You So bristles with fidgety, spiky rhythms and syncopations. Where their previous material was all downtrodden power chords, the production here emphasises the top line: shimmering guitars, sweet vocals, and layer upon layer of melodies. Paramore could always deliver a hook, now they're just more sophisticated.

They've also mastered that pop juxtaposition of upbeat production and sad lyrics - a nod to their emo roots whilst delivering something fresh. It's a notion that's at the heart of Fake Happy ("I been doing a good job of makin' 'em think I'm quite alright"), while on Pool the rush of love is compared to drowning. Moreover, both Hard Times and Rose-Colored Boy depict singer Hayley Williams' struggles with depression over playful, vibrant production.

The album does sag a little in its second half - its best tracks are all towards the start - but it picks up with the new wave Grudges, a track written to rekindle Williams' friendship with ex-but-now-returning drummer Zac Farro. The prevailing mood of 'Hard Times', then, is of overcoming adversity. That's fitting for a band who've struggled through multiple line-up changes and a lead singer battling with her own demons. It also makes for a brilliant pop album.


Gizzle's Choice:
* Hard Times
* Told You So
* Grudges

Listen: 'After Laughter' is out now.