If you somehow avoided that awkward wannabe emo phase in your mid teens then you probably wouldn’t have been that fussed with Paramore. But for me, Paramore has a special place in my heart. While I no longer obsess over them or have a die-hard desire to be exactly like Hayley Williams, the band’s pint sized front woman, I still enjoy listening to them. They’re my guilty pleasure.
After more band line up changes than anyone can keep up with they threw a curve ball with the release of Hard Times the lead single off of After Laughter at the end of April. Hard Times sets the tone for the band’s fifth album, they have done what a lot of their fans have done; they have grown up. Gone are the pop-punk guitar riffs and in place of that are catchy beats that will appeal to a larger audience. Despite the somewhat heavy lyrics, it is definitely a summer song. The band then released their follow up single Told You So, which sticks with the sound that they introduced in Hard Times although it is not as upbeat as it.
One thing that Paramore have really shown in this album is their range; all of the songs are not of the same pace. There is a mix of the stadium anthems that Paramore are known for, such as Fake Happy and Idle Worship, but there are also a good number that would be well fitted to an intimate gig. Tell Me How and 26 are two standouts and probably the most personal songs on the album. Hayley, the main mastermind behind the band’s lyrics, has been vocal about the struggles she’s had over the past 4 years since their last album release and it is clear that she has put those feelings into this album, in particular these two songs.
Another great song on the album is Pool, at first glance it appears to be a love song but they more you hear of it the clearer the twist in the tale becomes, which is the classic style of Paramore. Nevertheless, it is a very catchy song and one of their more mellow ones. Rose Coloured Boy is track number two and again tricks us with an upbeat tempo behind some not very upbeat lyrics. This is one of the songs where you can definitely hear the pop influence and it is definitely unlike anything Paramore have ever put out before.
My only one negative point to make is about the penultimate song on the album, No Friend. It might just be my personal taste but I think it disrupts the flow of the album if you are listening to it in track order; it features Aaron Weiss of Mewithoutyou doing his signature “spoken singing”. Even though the band is going in a new direction with this album, I think this song has been given the wrong directions and taken a left when it should have taken the right. But apart from that, I cannot fault this album.
My inner 14-year-old emo still longs for Paramore’s Riot! days to return but I’d be telling a lie if I said I didn’t enjoy this album. When I first heard Hard Times I was sceptical but the more I listened to it the more my excitement for the new album grew. So that would be my biggest piece of advice for you listening to this album, give it a fair chance and don’t write it off because “it isn’t Paramore”. We have changed as we have grown up and so have they – they are no longer teenagers head banging on stage. Change is good and After Laughter reflects that. And I can say for sure that they are definitely no longer my guilty pleasure.