Celebrating the hard times with old friends
After Laughter (2017), pop/rock band Paramore’s latest album, marks a departure in both sound and band members. After long-time bassist, Jeremy Davis, announced that he was leaving, remaining members Hayley Williams and Taylor York didn’t know if Paramore would continue.
“I think that if it weren’t for Taylor, the band would be over,” Williams said in an interview with Zane Lowe on Beats 1.
And yet, the album celebrates reconciliation. The band welcomed back original Paramore drummer, Zac Farro, during the writing process of After Laughter.
After the band split in 2010, Josh and Zac Farro went their separate ways, leaving Williams, York, and Davis with a band that seemed beyond repair. Still, they picked themselves back up and achieved mainstream success with Paramore (2013).
Speaking of his initial departure, Zac Farro seemed to have much less to do with the spiteful break-up letter than his elder brother, Josh.
“I had dreams about it—of them calling me and being like, ‘Hurry up, we need you,’” Zac said about eventually rejoining the band.
The band has since moved past the incident, though Williams sings about the difficulty of moving on in songs such as “Forgiveness” and “Grudges.”
“Come on, we’ll laugh till we cry
like we did when we were kids
’cause we can’t keep holding on to grudges,”
Williams sings on the latter track.
The summery vibes of the album are an oxymoronic marriage between sunny melodies and depressing lyrical truths. If you’re not paying attention, you’ll miss out on the poetic profundity of it all.
Themes of self-doubt, unhappiness, and the unromantic portrayal of depression all feature on After Laughter, in addition to the aforementioned forgiveness.
Now in their late 20s, they’re no longer the teenaged kids who just wanted to write the same type of music as their favourite bands.
Aaron Weiss of mewithoutYou, one of Williams’ favourite bands, does however provide guest vocals for the brooding interlude “No Friend”—only the second Paramore song to feature a guest vocalist.
“26” is one of the better slow songs that the band has written.
“I’ve been chasing after dreamers in the clouds
after all wasn’t I the one who said
to keep your feet on the ground?”
Williams tears down the walls of her public persona in “Idle Worship” through some of her most honest lyrics: “Be sure to put your faith in something more. I’m just a girl and you’re not as alone as you feel.”
While in “Fake Happy” she points her finger at not only herself but everyone else: “I bet everybody here is fake happy, too.”
Most of the songs lyrically focus on the uphill climb to get up when you’re down because, when you’re down, it can start to get comfortable there.
“I don’t feel as dark as I did when we were making the record,” said Williams. “But I absolutely am not over stuff that we’ve written about.”
While many long-time fans might be put off by Paramore’s transition from the young punks who wrote All We Know Is Falling (2005), others are happy to watch the band mature in a refreshing direction that has been refined even further since Paramore (2013).
Whatever the weather, the sun-kissed tunes of After Laughter are a perfect listen for a daily mood-booster, summer soundtrack, or for a long drive with the windows down.
Feature image courtesy of Paramore.