Paramore is back. The trio, Taylor York, Hayley Williams, and Zac Farro returned with After Laughter, their fifth studio album. Zac Farro, who rejoined the band after Jeremy Davis’ 2015 exit, was a welcome surprise to longtime fans. The 12-track album comes after the group almost disbanded, according to Williams, but York is the reason they are still a band and we couldn’t be more grateful.
The album begins with lead single “Hard Times,” which is one of the faster songs on the album. The track is all about the difficult moments in our life when you want to give up because they seem never-ending but comfortable because you’ve lived with them for so long. In many ways, “Hard Times” feels like a song that is asking the listener to join them on a journey of their highest highs and lowest lows as they try to figure out how they survived it all. “Rose-Colored Boy” is the track that follows and appears to be about a person who is optimistic but doesn’t understand that not everyone has optimism left in them regarding the way the world currently is. The track is great in that it doesn’t ask the optimist to change themselves but only asks the optimist to allow pessimists to be upset and feel what they need to feel. I think too, in many ways, they are asking their fans both old and new to do the same.
“Told You So,” the second single off the album, takes a bit of a turn and focuses in on the people who jump at the chance to say “I told you so” the minute that something goes wrong. These people are the kind of people that feign concern but delight in being right much more. “Fake Happy” is exactly what the title suggests, faking happiness in public places so that people don’t see how much you’re hurting. The track opens with a single guitar for the first two verses, slow and steady before the third verse brings in a drum as the song insists that everyone is a little fake happy and that they don’t want to pretend anymore that things are okay. This ties in with the earlier request in “Rose-Colored Boy” to let them feel what they need to feel.
“26” is simply heartbreaking. It’s about the moment when you stop the façade and let the tears fall as you recount the memories you made and the person you used to be as if you’re mourning them with the understanding that you can’t ever be that person again. “Pool” is the closest to a love song Paramore has gotten to a love song, but there’s a catch. The song isn’t about a love being perfect or beautiful but a love that hurts and is hard but worth the effort. “Grudges,” Williams admits in part two of a beats 1 interview, is a song about Farro and the rebuilding of their friendship after a long time and how they let go of grudges and are enjoying what their friendship is now and who they are now. “Caught In the Middle” is about being stuck between nostalgia and the urgency to move forward and keep living.
“Idle Worship” and “Tell Me How” are our favorite tracks on the album. “Idle Worship” addresses the way in which some fans of the band put the band and Williams herself on a pedestal, believing as though they can do no wrong when everything is going well, just to cut them down when something goes awry or they make a mistake. The song explains that Williams herself is just a human being who is not perfect while explaining that she nor the other band members are not worthy of blind worship and that, if someone decides to do so, they will surely be let down. “Tell Me How” is the gut-wrenching closer of the album all about being unsure of where you stand with someone all the while being unsure of how you’re supposed to feel about them.
“No Friend,” which falls just between “Idle Worship” and “Tell Me How” is the only song on the album that doesn’t quite seem to fit. The song is not in fact a song at all nor does it feature any of the members of Paramore and maybe that’s why it seems so out of place on the album. The track feels like a better fit for 2005’s All We Know Is Falling or 2007’s Riot!
We love the new album, and as longtime fans of the band, we can’t wait to hear them perform live. How do you feel about the new After Laughter era? Let us know in the comments!
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After Laughter: The Return of Paramore: Featured image courtesy of Paramore/Facebook