When I first heard the lead single from Paramore’s new album, I was left wondering if I was going to be a fan of their new sound. I’ve always enjoyed their music, but I’ve never been a fully-fledged fan. I’ve never had their albums on repeat, there’s just been a few songs from each that I’ll love (shout-out to One of Those Crazy Girls), and Hard Times didn’t speak to me the way I wanted it to.
At least that’s what I thought the first time I heard it.
It was a song I couldn’t get out of my head. I was humming along to it despite barely knowing how the tune went, and within a week of hearing it and deciding it wasn’t quite my thing, I had the song on repeat, and with the release of the album, I’ve not been able to turn it off.
All of the songs follow the same musical style, creating something both coherent and beautiful in sound. It’s a brilliant mix of upbeat music and deeply depressing lyrics about how being positive isn’t always going to work, and sometimes you just have to accept that you’re bitter, and it directly contrasts their last album, released 2013, which was overall quite positive and hopeful for the future.
In Fake Happy, lead singer Hayley William’s sings ‘I know I said that I was doing good and that I’m happy now / I should’ve known that when things are going good
that’s when I get knocked down‘ which to me, perfectly encapsulates the difference between their self-titled studio album and After Laughter, which offers a complete departure from songs from their previous album such as Still Into You and I’m Not Angry Anymore.
As for the song itself, Fake Happy is one of the strongest on the album, along with Rose-colored Boy, Pool and Caught in the Middle, but there isn’t a single song on this album that is forgettable. Each one carries something new, something the previous song didn’t touch upon, and the songs sound similar enough to be cohesive without sounding the same.
And maybe it’s just because I too have ditched a positive attitude for a more cynical one, but this album speaks to me in a way not many other albums have ever achieved, giving me a strange sense of solidarity with William’s desperate vocals.
It just really works for me, and I love it.
Fake Happy, for example, is a situation we’re probably all familiar with, where everything sucks and life is just a bit shit, but then you go out and pretend it’s great, and the only people who know the truth are the people closest to you, but they can’t understand why you’d pretend. Hayley asks ‘do you think I’ll look alright with these mascara tears?‘ and honestly? We’ve all been there.
Rose-colored Boy is another favourite. Lines such as ‘you say my eyes are getting too dark now / but boy, you ain’t ever seen my mind‘ put over a feel-good beat feels like the kind of depression where all you can do is joke about it, because if you ever took it seriously your world would probably collapse around you.
After Laughter is an album that takes all the hurt and the darkness and the bitterness and turns it into a dance track worthy of anyone who’s a little pissed off at the world. It’s Paramore at it’s best, trying something new while staying the same, with lyrics you can scream to make you feel better while still complaining about the world and everything in it.
And it’s my favourite album of theirs to date.