After Laughter is the long anticipated fifth studio album from Tennessee native’s Paramore. Fans rejoiced at the news of the album’s release coming out of nowhere, as well as the return of original drummer Zac Farro to the band. Beginning in 2004, After Laughter is reflective of the band’s journey to their joyous comeback: synth alt pop at it’s best.
Opening up with single “Hard Times”, the ‘80s throwback tune with a retro music video to match, the band assert their new found sound. Vocalist Hayley Williams takes listeners on a ride through her woes and rock bottom in that makes it hard for you to not dance along. Second single “Told You So” makes one doubt the lyrics “For all i know/ the best is over/ and the worst is yet to come/. Another ‘80s tinged dance anthem, Williams tells off whoever was dumb enough to not listen to her, making everyone want to sing this to anyone they gave advice that wasn’t take and to pick up a xylophone.
In fact, xylophones seem to be a central aspect to the anthem, with the intro to “Pool” sounding like a video game intro screen. Energetic yet moody, “Pool encapsulates being happy and sad simultaneously. “Caught in the Middle” has the same vibe, with the opening lines “I can’t think of getting old/ it only makes me want to die”. Transitioning to the chorus reminiscent of “The Tide is High” by Blondie, “Caught in the Middle” is surfer tinged sadness that hooks you in.
There are times where Paramore isn’t constantly dancing in primary colors. Similar to “The Only Exception” off 2009’s Bright Eyes, the band revisits melancholy acoustic sounds in “26”. With a string arrangement of violins, violas, and cellos, one can’t help but wonder who did Williams or guitarist Taylor York, who wrote all tracks with Williams, wrong.
“Tell Me How” is the grand finale, a ballad of some sorts, with William’s haunting voice recalling about a past relationship she can’t seem to let go of. The ultimate breakup anthem, Paramore leaves us with an album that is perfect for your highest highs, blasting it in the car with the windows down, and your lowest lows. If this many hits can come out of the band’s “Hard Times”, there is nowhere to go but up from here.