Paramore’s punk sound is dead. Pastel pop is here.
Long gone are the times when Paramore’s albums would bring the punk world into a frenzy like the days of 2007 “RIOT!” and 2009 “Brand New Eyes”.
After the commercial success of their 2013 self-titled album, Paramore has decided to follow further into the pop scene with their fifth album, “After Laughter”; which isn’t a laughing matter to the old-school punk Paramore fans.
With bassist Jeremy Davis departing in 2015, we knew we were in for a change but we never thought as drastic and dramatic as this.
Right from the start, the album starts upbeat with their first single, Hard Times. When released, the song gained a lot of backlash from old-school fans because you couldn’t even recognise who it was until Hayley William’s signature voice kicks in. This is the first sign that Paramore is no longer the punk band we loved but instead is trying to bring in a whole new fanbase.
Rose-Colored Boy brings a bit of Hayley’s punk vocal fun into it but other than the vocals, it’s hard to differentiate between the songs as the pop theme seems to just continue and bring a blur in between songs.
The third track and second single, Told You So, brings back some of the flavour that the self-titled delivered with more of a presence to the band. A strong second single to show what they have, yet still short of what they could have achieved (still happens to get stuck in your head quite easily, though).
The album drops back to a slow beat with Forgiveness with very sombre lyrics. As sad as the lyrics are, it keeps the pop there and comes akin to the styles used by Taylor Swift in “1989”. Not a bad sound but not a sound we’re used to from Paramore.
This style seems to follow into the tracks Fake Happy and 26, the latter providing some much needed instrumental backing from an acoustic guitar. 26 is definitely more of an ode to the old days and is probably one of the only songs on the album to bring us back to a day in our teens. Think The Only Exception but on the other side of a break-up.
The upbeat, bubblegum pop returns in the tracks Pool and Grudges. It’s still hard to tell between the songs due to the very similar pop backing which after a while does seem to dig into the back of your brain and stay there.
Caught In The Middle comes out sounding like a summertime beach track. The guitar presence that we all know and love finally shows up but is highly underused and then disappears in the following track Idle Worship.
The weirdest track of the album, No Friend, happens to be the most presence the rest of the band has shown. With Aaron Weiss providing the gloomy vocals, it’s all overpowered by the band’s instrumental. This song would go down great as an intro to their upcoming tours or as a costume change for Hayley’s new look, but doesn’t hold the Paramore touch.
The end of the album brings Tell Me How, possibly Hayley’s strongest, most vocal song she has ever done. As much as the album brought so much happiness, this song will make you stop and listen no matter what playthrough you are on.
As much as we love Paramore being the punk band that defined any teenagers years, this album is a farewell to that sound we grew up with. Let’s just hope that when they tour, they include some of their old material.