‘After Laughter’ is ok with not being ok.
‘Album’ of ‘the Week’
Label: Fueled By Ramen
Released: 12th May 2017
“We are Paramore.” For four albums, the band were defiant and united under that simple idea. Bold, brash and determined to persevere, the band took the fires of the world and used them as fuel. No matter the odds, Paramore came up on top because what other option was there.
Album five is different. The band are still a band but there are no brave faces here. There’s no hiding behind an idea, or pretending because you have to. Instead ‘After Laughter’ is ok with not being ok.
While the music busies itself with a tropical landscape, all sunshine, smiles and postcard-perfect moments of joyous escape, the lyrics are trapped under the weight of the real world. And it ain’t fun. ‘After Laughter’ knows something has shifted (“remember when we used to like ourselves?”) but it doesn’t know how to react. Caught somewhere in the middle, the record pushes people away (‘Idle Worship’) and is desperate to hold them close (‘Grudges’).
It might be an album of conflict, both sonically and emotionally, and there’s no end in sight but that doesn’t mean ‘After Laughter’ is hopeless. It’s a coming of age record for when the world says you should have it all figured out by now. Paramore have never exactly done what was expected though. 5more is figuring things out in real time and it asks questions without waiting for answers. “Is it enough to keep on hoping when the rest have given up?”
Despite the harsh realities, there’s peace to be found. While ‘Fake Happy’ finds power in vulnerable honesty and ‘Grudges’ is happy to let things go, ‘Idle Worship’ still has sparks of optimism, “We could let the light illuminate these hopeless places,” it offers. Backed by neon starshine, it provides a gravitational pull that’s hard to resist.
And that’s where Paramore really shine. Even when they’re focused on the bedroom ceiling, they speak with a universal language. They can’t help but care.
Instead of trying to find closure, ‘After Laughter’ is content with the immediate. The Paramore of old were out to take on the world and their war cry was about feeling unstoppable. This time around, there’s victory to be found in still standing. Hearts, souls and unspeakable truths, the band have given their all to ‘After Laughter’ and in the words of ‘No Friend’, “If nothing comes of it, then just know we are grateful.” Ali Shutler