Album Review: After Laughter

For quite some time, I have been fond of the music of Paramore [1], and when I found they had a new album out, and that even people who did not think of themselves as fans of the album were pretty fond of the album and gave it a recommendation.  Obviously, this piqued my interest even more, so I wanted to give the album and listen and let you all know what I thought about it.  It has been four years since Paramore’s previous album, and during that time lead singer Hayley Williams has, like many of her listeners, been struggling through a particularly difficult time of life.  I can certainly relate to that.  Here is a track by track review:

Hard Times:  The opening single off of the album, this song captures the struggle Hayley Williams has faced over the last few years, and the song manages to capture that unpleasant nature by a mood of forced cheer that shows the unhappiness behind the mask, a brave sense of honesty that works well as a song.

Rose-Colored Boy:  This particular song sounds like it could have come out of the glorious 80’s.  This is a band paying homage to the past in the best way, with an ironically happy new wave sound.

Told You So:  The general mood of the album continues with this beautiful and moderately complicated musical exploration of feeling vindicated in one’s pessimism.  This song is a pointed exploration into a dysfunctional relationship of the sort that many people can relate to.  I know I can.

Forgiveness:  This song is another look at a dysfunctional relationship, and the struggle for people to forgive others when there is still a deep connection and the threat of abuse continuing.  Reconciliation is difficult business, as I muse often, and this song deals with honestly with that difficulty.

Fake Happy:  As someone who has spent a great deal of life putting on a far happier face than I felt, this is a song I could relate to painfully well.  The lyrics and music work well together, and this song could be a big hit single with a compelling video if this album is successful enough to drop multiple singles.  I imagine there are many people who feel exactly like Hayley does; I know I have felt this way often as well.

26:  This song is a sad and lovely piano ballad that I found to be very moving.  As someone who has a certain fondness for slow and sad songs given my native melancholy, this song well-represented the downbeat mood of the album in a straightforward and earnest fashion.

Pool:  Beautiful chimes in the opening bring this song, like some others on this album, to a particularly 80’s vibe, this one having a darker tone from the first half of that decade, a gloomy and dark song about the wounds that we give to those we are in relationships with and with whom we feel attached, a pretty relatable problem to have.

Grudges:  A synth pop song whose music would not have been out of place on Keane’s “Perfect Symmetry” album, this song deals with concerns about forgiveness and holding on to the past.  Why do we waste so much time on grudges and holding on to our resentments against others?

Caught In The Middle:  This song shows the singer feeling herself caught in an uncomfortable period of life where she feels between young and old, unhappy with the way her life has gone.  As has been the case with much of this album, there is a lot I can relate to here as the singer opines that she can sabotage herself without any help from anyone else in a gloomy outro.

Idle Worship:  This song is a thoughtful and moving and pointed criticism of the idolatry by which imperfect people are placed on a pedestal and not allowed to be the flawed people they really are inside.  The dark and gloomy music only adds to the unhappy atmosphere of the whole song, something that is easy to relate to.

No Friend:  This dark and gloomy track about people behaving in an unfriendly manner towards each other is the sort of track from this album that might work best on rock or alternative radio from this album.  I feel it worthwhile to encourage and cheer on the ambition that this song represents.

Tell Me How:  The closing track of this album, this moody but lovely piano ballad shows the narrator struggling to understand how to feel about someone else.  Of particular interest is the way that the narrator finds the silence to be the most violent of the many unpleasant sort of interactions that they have.  I feel it is probably not a good thing to relate to a Paramore album so much.

Overall, this is a strong album.  I’m not sure how many of the songs on this album will be singles, or how the record sales will do, but if you’re a person who can appreciate the move of Paramore into a more new wave/synth pop direction with this album, and who can overcome a great deal of the personal drama that appears to have dogged the band for nearly its entire existence, this is an album one can get behind.  I know I can relate to it all too well.

[1] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2013/10/13/why-should-the-fire-die/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2013/07/25/emerys-complaint/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2011/04/12/the-only-exception/

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About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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