Review: After Laughter

Paramore are currently a three piece band from Tennessee, having shifted genres and reshuffled line-ups many times since their formation in 2004.  Friday marked the release of their fifth full length studio album, After Laughter.  Their current reincarnation is that of a cutesy pop-rock three piece with 80s vibes, demonstrated by the album’s lead single, Hard Times.  You can see the video here:

Hard Times is the opening track for the record, and it definitely sets the tone for what is to come.  Gone are the days of Paramore’s emo classics like crushcrushcrush, or their more acoustic, stripped back numbers such as Misguided Ghosts.  This track is chock full of fun pop elements, such as gang vocals, fun synths and the wacky “and I gotta get to rock bottom” garnishing each chorus.

Williams’ songwriting has continued to grow over the years, and at some points is in direct contrast to the light-hearted pop sounding instrumentals.  Williams seems content to lay out her feelings of anxiety, frustration and pessimism with more nuance and grace than ever before.  Whilst the instrumentals on After Laughter often sound sweet, the actual lyrical content sometimes leaves a sour aftertaste, and I really appreciate the band’s complexity.  One of the best examples of this is Fake Happy, with its cheerful sounding veneer and “ba-da ba-da ba ba” backing vocals sugar coating feelings of sadness and the pressure to maintain appearances.  Another is the incredible Idle Worship, where Williams purposely distorts the sound of her voice to illustrate her confusion and frustration with being put on a pedestal.

This album has also allowed Williams to change things up with her vocals.  Williams has an incredible vocal talent, and previous albums really stretched to demonstrate that – think back to All I Wanted from Brand New Eyes, for one example.  Nowadays she no longer has to prove her vocal prowess, and to me it sounds like Williams has taken a small step back.  She’s the front woman of Paramore, that’s not up for discussion, but After Laughter seems to focus a little more on their musical experimentation than vocals.  To me this is best demonstrated in tracks such as Rose-Colored Boy and the slower paced Forgiveness.

The sound of After Laughter reminds me a lot of Walk The Moon’s second record, Talking Is Hard, in terms of its vaguely 80s vibe and fun, summery upbeat themes running throughout.  This is absolutely a compliment, as both albums confidently combine pop elements with more mature and complex songwriting.  I’m looking forward to getting hold of a hard copy of After Laughter so I can put it in my car and listen whilst driving down the motorway, windows down: this is the perfect record for those long drives.

Some Paramore fans seemed to express surprise and the band’s new pop sound, but in my mind, After Laughter was the next logical step for the band.  Brand New Eyes took the band further away from their emo origins with a number of more chilled, acoustic tracks, and their self titled fourth record was the album that garnered them the most commercial and critical success.  As the band have grown older and wiser, it’s obvious to me that they would shed their angsty teen attitude to songwriting and cultivate a more mature sound.  The songwriting in After Laughter is miles away from the petty and venomous “once a whore you’re nothing more, I’m sorry that’ll never change” from Misery Business.

Overall, I honestly think After Laughter is a strong competitor for one of the best pop records 2017.  Fans of Paramore’s self titled album will definitely enjoy their latest LP, and although fans of their first two records may feel that the band have lost their way, I for one think that they’ve found it.  Williams, Farro and York seem to be creating the music they really want to make, and if that’s the case, then I am 100 per cent behind it.

 Highlights: Hard Times, Fake Happy, Grudges, Idle Worship

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9 incredible tracks you need in your life – April 2017

Hi altrocklifers, and welcome to my first update on a Wednesday, thanks to my new schedule.  Now you’ll have even less time to wait in between updates: lucky you!  It’s nearly the end of the month, so you all know what that means – today I’ll be looking back through April and sharing the best new tracks released this month.

Tonight Alive – World Away

Tonight Alive’s previous record, Limitless, had a more pop-rock feel to their first two albums.  To me it sounds like World Away is a return to the band’s more punk-pop/alternative rock roots, and that’s definitely no bad thing.

Paramore – Hard Times

This track is probably the most pop-inspired track ever put out by Paramore, and the electronic influences and music video have a serious 80s vibe.  This is a very upbeat and summery track, and whilst some Paramore fans are against the new sound, I really like it!  I’m excited to hear the rest of their upcoming record, After Laughter.

Obey The Brave – On Our Own

Sometimes you just really need some new metalcore tracks in your life, and Obey The Brave’s latest offering really scratched that itch.

Royal Blood – Lights Out

For the past year or so, I’ve been wondering when Brighton duo Royal Blood would return with new music for their eager fans.  Thankfully the band returned earlier this month with the first single from their upcoming second album, How Did We Get So Dark?, and it’s a real banger.

Have Mercy – Good Christian Man

I reviewed Have Mercy’s latest record, Make The Best Of It, on Sunday, and this track was one of my highlights from the album.  You can read the full review here.

New Found Glory – Party On Apocalypse 

New Found Glory are one of those bands who have stuck to the same sound for years, and their consistency makes them one of the best pop-punk bands around.

Of Mice & Men – Unbreakable

Unbreakable is the first track released by Of Mice & Men since previous lead vocalist Austin Carlile had to leave the band due to ongoing health issues.  When it was announced that the band would be continuing as a four piece, fans were concerned as to whether vocalist and bass player Aaron Pauley would step up and sing both clean and harsh vocals on their new tracks.  This track answers that question with a definite yes: Pauley is more than capable of filling Carlile’s shoes, and I can’t wait to hear more from the group.

Papa Roach – American Dreams

This latest track from Papa Roach sounds like the band are harking back to their earlier days, especially throughout the verses.  I can always appreciate a band who takes elements of their old sound and bring them up to date, so I can’t wait to hear their upcoming record, Crooked Teeth.

Blondie – Long Time

My Mum is a massive fan of Blondie, so I’ve been listening to the classic voice of Debbie Harry since I was a kid.  Long Time proves that the band have still got what it takes to put out great sounding tracks.


What do you think of these tracks?  Are there any awesome singles I missed?  Let me know on my Facebook or Twitter page, or in the comment section below this post.