Lifted Licks: Paramore, "After Laughter"
Every Thursday here at ES, we provide you with an excellent recommendation of some tunes to listen to while enjoying your favorite strain. Usually we go with new music, but considering it's the end of the year, today we're taking a look back at one of the most infectiously enjoyable albums of 2017.
It's possible that you think of Paramore as a relatively shallow pop rock band, and you're not technically wrong -- most of their best tunes could be heard as somewhat bubbly pop hits, the kind of thing you might hear from a classic Avril Lavigne or even a Jessica Simpson back in her day (if she did ever have one). Paramore's always had a dark edge, though, as much as they've dressed it up with Haley Williams' shiny voice and the even shinier beats.
After Laughter, released earlier this year, is something a little more inventive, however. Yes, the pop rock sound is here, but it's been augmented with a nostalgic synth angle, with glossy barrel drum sounds and 80s flash guitars. The darker, depressing edge that has always flowed behind the band gets an even sharper edge here (which you could argue come from the drama around the band's rotating cast, but really, who cares where it comes from?). The result is an album that's shiny, sparkling, and bloody, like a set of vampire teeth brushed white and then stabbed into someone's jugular.
On Rose-Colored Boy, Williams flirtily tells the titular lad that all he has to do to win her heart is "hang with me and my weather," surely a tougher task than it might sound at first. "Fake Happy" is really the peak of the album, a joyous arena banger that's actually about how no one in the arena is actually having a good time. As usually happens on Paramore records, the action eventually gets meta and personal -- later, on "Idle Worship's" infectious chorus, Williams basically tells her audience that they shouldn't look up to her for creating emotionally disappointing rock songs, all while singing a song that isn't disappointing at all.
If you're not into pop, then ok, you might not enjoy what's here -- there aren't any growling metal voices and the album's darkest moment (a rambling background monologue over a droning rock track called "No Friend" that, again who cares, probably has to do with one of the band members not appearing on the record) does sound even more whiny than emo.
All of that said, however, this album is just fucking fun to listen to. Grab your favorite sativa, light it up, and enjoy Haley Williams and her band turning their depression into catchy, polished pop rock tunes. After Laughter is all over the critics' lists of top albums of 2017, and it's available now at record stores and on streaming services.