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Thoughts on Paramore - "After Laughter"

June 28, 2017

If After Laughter could be summed up in one image, the image could be ‘one long crashing blue wave of water on the California coast’. The album flows together as a long wave would, one song to the next, changing just enough to be 12 distinct pieces to one of the best puzzles you’ve ever completed. The album, being separate and whole at the same time, is also a perfect image of Paramore itself; with the band changes and disagreements over the years, the fact that an album like After Laughter can still be created proves the strength of music to power through any disputes.

Formed in 2004, the Nashville-born band reached fame the good “old-fashioned” way – they wrote and performed quality music with a distinct sound. All We Know Is Falling, the band’s first studio album released in 2005, set them up perfectly for their 2007 album release Riot!. Riot! is possibly the staple of who Paramore is – the singles “Misery Business”, “Crushcrushcrush” and “That’s What You Get” continued to move the band into the perfect position for recognition. Paramore continued to gain fame throughout the past ten years, each album holding to their distinct sound while paving a new path for the band. Out of the three current band members, (Hayley Williams, Zac Farro and Taylor York), Hayley is the only member to have stayed in the band since its founding in 2004.

Maybe because of her consistency, maybe because of her fiery hair, maybe just because she seems really cool, Hayley Williams is a star that has arguably reached a different degree of fame than her band. Pitchfork writes (in an intelligible review about After Laughter), “All these comings and goings might seem trivial in relation to Williams’ supernova star power, but the drama has always fueled her songwriting, as well as the band’s sound, to an outsized degree.”* The Pitchfork article also states that Paramore's music, especially in the band's formative years, was "informed by a pious Christian faith". Josh Farro, a founder of the band which is no longer a part, acknowledges this pious faith, but has questioned if Williams is still as dedicated to the faith through her songwriting as she was in the beginning.** Williams undoubtedly allows herself to be transparent about these conflicts in her songwriting, spoken through metaphors and symbols galore, which is what continues to make her and the band feel close and applicable.

After Laughter is exactly these two words – close and applicable. On the album, “Fake Happy” sounds exactly like something many listeners can appreciate. As Williams softly opens the song with “I love makin’ you believe / what you get is what you see / but I’m so fake happy / I feel so fake happy”, anyone can feel as though she’s reading their mind and portraying their own thoughts in the most sincere way. Later in the album, “No Friend” is presented almost as an accident; it seems as though Aaron Weiss (of mewithoutYou) was quietly expressing the thoughts of Williams through poetry in the background of a Paramore practice session. The words of “No Friend” are “dense, referential, and almost shockingly honest, culminating in lines that seem to suggest the band’s craven core”, as Pitchfork states in the aforementioned article.

Paramore’s newest album has exactly the sound that it needs to have to hold tight to the band’s core while also remaining updated and taking risks. Talking Heads and The Cure are the two bands that After Laughter seems to derive influence from primarily, taking you back to the 80’s while still exploring the challenges of everyday 2017.

 

Resources:

*http://pitchfork.com/reviews/albums/23237-after-laughter/

**https://www.theguardian.com/music/2010/dec/23/ex-paramore-members-slam-hayley-williams

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