With the success of Paramore’s self-titled album, their fifth studio release 'After Laughter' was highly anticipated after a four year wait and uncertainty over the future of the band with the sudden departure of Jeremy Davis and the subsequent return of founding member Zac Farro.
What they delivered was an album full of 80s and new wave sounds, with influences from the likes of Blondie, Talking Heads, The Cure, and Fleetwood Mac. Although we had a taste of this on the self-titled album, Paramore really turned up the volume on these sounds, but the record still had the true lyrical feel of a Paramore album.
'After Laughter' exudes honest and heavy lyrics with dance/funk beats - sort of a genre of ‘depression jam’, saying sometimes life is hard and it’s okay not to be okay. A true representation of ‘Cry Hard, Dance Harder’, which is a slogan Hayley has now written on the back of a stage outfit.
So, in celebration of Paramore’s new album, we asked some fans to share with us some thoughts about their favourite song on the album...
- Rhianna (@NZparamore)
'Hard Times', the opening track of Paramore's new album 'After Laughter' was the first music we heard from the band in the four years since the release of their self-titled album in 2013. What a way to return! With little warning they released the song accompanied by a dreamy music video full of 80s pop vibes.
The departure from the prominent 'rock' guitar riffs of earlier albums, and the experimentation with other instruments and sounds feels so seamless. Taylor York’s songwriting deserves so much praise.
Accompanied by hard-hitting lyrics that resonate with the majority of people trying to navigate through life in their 20s, Hayley opens with the line, "All that I want is to wake up fine." She continues, singing in the chorus that “hard times” are "gonna make you wonder why you even try," and she alludes to a "little rain cloud" which personally resonates as a representation of depression and anxiety, and this is a theme that we see continuing throughout the whole record. There are no jokes in these lyrics; they are raw, real, and personal. It's refreshing to hear these subjects be sang about and to be accompanied by seamless synth-pop. The contrast of sad lyrics against the upbeat and beautifully layered pop track is wonderful and makes me want to simultaneously dance and cry. I guess I’m not the only one to feel that way: as Hayley herself says, "cry hard, dance harder."
- Caitlin (@caitlinchaden)
'Rose-Colored Boy' catches you from the first time you hear the chant, "Low-key, no pressure! Just hang with me and my weather!" It's the song I wish I've had to listen to my whole life, because I've really needed a song that says, "I'm allowed to feel down." It is the best (and only song) I believe that could follow the momentum of 'Hard Times', and gets you even more hyped to listen to the rest of the record.
We all love Paramore for many reasons, particularly their lyrics, and I'm going to say with confidence that Hayley's lyrics have never been punchier than they have in this song. "I'm so annoyed, 'cause I've just killed off what was left of the optimist in me", "A half-empty girl, don't make me laugh I'll choke", "I ain't gonna smile, if I don't want to", "And really all I've got is just to stay pissed off, if it's alright by you", "You say 'we gotta look on the bright side,' I say 'well maybe if you wanna go blind", "You say my eyes are getting too dark now, but boy you ain't ever seen my mind."
This is a stand-out track in Paramore's catalogue, and Hayley is making damn sure you know it while spitting out the lyrics with sass that stings but in such a healing way. When I listen to this song on repeat, it's because I'm thinking, "Fuck yes, someone finally said it!"
In regards to the meaning of the song, I think it's pretty obvious about dealing with mental illness and having someone close to you who just wants you to cheer up and thinks it's easy. It doesn't even need to be a mental illness either - sometimes we all go through shit, and the people who hurt us want us to smile and get over it fast. But it doesn't work that way... ever.
This is especially true of men with their attitude towards women - we're called "overly emotional" etc. for feeling and not just shrugging things off. And often, we are expected to forgive easy. That's why I love how the title is 'Rose-Colored BOY'. This is the perfect song to say, "F***k you, I have feelings, and you can hang with me while I work my way through this or leave me alone."
And like a lot of other songs on 'After Laughter', this song goes to show you can dance while going through a rough time. And you are allowed to stay pissed off. Don't let anyone invalidate your emotions and experience.
- Pauline (@divebackintoyou)
The fiery 'Told You So' was unleashed on the world at the start of May. Despite 'Hard Times' still being fresh out of the oven, Paramore wasted no time in serving up another sharp, honest - and surprisingly buoyant - slice regarding the harshness of the real world.
The third track of 'After Laughter' delivers a sour take on anxiety, stability (or lack thereof), and being kicked when you’re down. Structured around the common, condescending phrase that also gives the song it’s title, 'Told You So' is masterful in mocking those around us who apparently know best.
Opening with solely Hayley’s breathy vocals for a few seconds, the track then explodes with a full, colourful instrumental. I love the prominent bassline from Justin Meldal-Johnsen, who definitely channels the funky tones of Talking Heads. But the most notable thing about 'Told You So' is arguably the juiced lead riff: a sudden, sparkling outburst that flourishes alongside the heat in the vocals and adds a layer of punchiness above Zac’s rolling, offbeat drums. Taylor is to thank for the refreshing Afrobeat infusion here, as he’s recently proclaimed his love for the genre and how it’s actively inspired the album.
Not dissimilarly to 'Hard Times', the song also makes use of the lightness of a marimba. Quite the juxtaposition against a later bridge of the desperate, “Throw me into the fire”, don’t ya think? Plus, the heavy repetition of “I hate to” - also totally opposing “They love to” - and the constant usage of different pronouns makes for a whole he said/she said, messy sort of dialogue. And it’s brilliant.
I mean, this song really kicks down your door AND kicks you up the butt, reminding you that no-one is in a place to judge. People are facing their own challenges and trying their best to cope. If this song preaches anything, it’s that you shouldn’t be the one to say, "I told you so."
- Eleanor (@paramofe)
Being in a band that always wrote about real life this time wasn't easy. It's all around 'After Laughter', but I can feel it especially in 'Forgiveness'. It was hard times for Paramore, both as a band and as people. Hayley exposed her heart with 'Forgiveness', but I think it is in the healing process that each of us demonize our pain in our own way.
'Forgiving is not forgetting...' 'Forgiveness' is probably my favourite song from 'After Laughter'.
In my life, I’ve been through a lot, and I think that the reason why I love this song so much is because it's matching so damn well what I have felt at some point of my life. "Shot a hole in the sun / If I never look up maybe I’ll never notice."
Someone once said, "When you forgive, that means you absorb the loss and the debt. All Forgiveness, then, is costly." I think it's the point of this song. Now, I don't want to pay this price, I just want to live in the peace that was so hard built... and I feel that writing this song helped to build that space.
The aura of 'Forgiveness' is musically so embracing: every part of the song is so delicate that it perfectly captures the feeling of the lyrics. Even if you're feeling down because of what this song may remind you, you can slowly dance to it and sing along to a song that is truly felt. That understands you. Because there's always time to forgive (but just not now).
- Antonio (@pmore_source)
Hasn't it happened to you before, you have someone with a guitar in front of you and they put on a display of feelings, right at you!? Well, this track sounds nothing but like a precious declaration from the get-go. Those first 37 seconds of the song involve you in a mix of emotions that could easily make you get moved and sympathetic. What the synthesizers introduce then is a tremendous and out of control catharsis composed by an angst of emotional states and reactions towards what seems to be a reality at which anyone could easily familiarize with. “Oh please!!!”
There's a lot to give thanks for about this song; such as the fact your favourite band can still show themselves being so open and sincere, the fact that a band can still use real instruments to play music in these times we're dealing with in the music industry, and last but not least the fact that your favourite band still can make you feel so, so ridiculously happy while stomping on their current beat but at the same time immensely sad all rolled into one. To me this track is fair proof I was never wrong in believing in Paramore from day one and that's why I will always stick around for these amazing artists, talented musicians, and incredible people.
- Roger (@ERVO1973)
'26', is deeper than just a number. This song really represents the depths of depression. The first verse, “Man you really know how to get someone down, everything was fine until you came around.”
Life is hard man, and it certainly doesn’t care how old or young or strong or tall you are. Depression is real and this song brings out the pain that has been stuck in the back of your throat, almost like you’re allowing yourself to be sad and letting that wave pass. “Hold on to hope if you got it” - that hope is the only thing that helps you get out of that painful feeling that’s constantly running through your mind. Dealing with depression alone is hard but sometimes you can’t help to be, "Tight up close to the window, hope that someday I just float away, man you really bring me down." This song not only talks about depression, but it allows yourself to feel that pain and recover even at your weakest.
My favorite part of the song is, "Reality will break your heart / Survival will not be the hardest part / It's keeping all your hopes alive when all the rest of you has died / So let it break your heart." Something about allowing yourself to go through the pain and to cry it out until you can’t cry anymore, leaves room for growth and new feelings to develop. This song is more than just a special sad song, it’s a reminder that there will be bad days and some even more bad days, but its okay - you’re not alone, and I feel the only consolation to depression is knowing you’re not alone.
- Joanna (@paramusicrocks)
Following the soft, sombre tones of '26', 'Pool' comes twinkling through the speakers lifting the mood by immediately giving off a chilled, summery vibe with sounds reminiscent of water droplets. I remember when I first heard this song and I was completely mesmerized by this different kind of sound that we’ve not heard from Paramore before.
The feel is quickly contrasted by the heartwrenching lyrics, "Cause no one breaks my heart like you." Hayley addresses being hurt and overwhelmed in her relationship but keeps trying to forgive and move on. She compares the struggle to drowning and wanting to give up, yet the tune and lyrics still bring hope, "If I survive, I’ll dive back in." I just related to this feeling so much, not knowing whether to take a risk and throw yourself into something all over again that could cause so much pain.
The chorus comes through so dreamy and captivating it could almost be a theme song for a SoCal TV show. The melody is catchy and soothing and it’s definitely what makes it one of my favourite songs on the album.
Along with other songs in the album, 'Pool' really made me realise just how vulnerable and human Paramore are as people and that they go through everyday things just as everybody else does.
- Josie (@josiemeaks)
'Grudges' couldn’t have come at a more perfect time in my life. The whole album actually. Paramore’s music has seemed to connect to certain issues throughout my life. From 'All We Know Is Falling' to 'After Laughter', I find myself reflecting through the lyrics. What makes the song so brilliant is that Zac sings on it! He echoes in, “Why did it take so long?” Hayley mentioned during the writing process of 'After Laughter' she wanted to write about Zac and wanted him to sing on the track. This song is gold! And I’m sure it holds a special place in Hayley and Zac’s heart as it does in mine.
'Grudges' for me hit home so hard, it was like a breath of fresh air. At the point of listening to this song for the first time, I was actually in the process of rebuilding bridges with my Mom. We hadn’t spoken for almost two years - long story short, my parents filed for divorce and although it devastated me to admit, I couldn’t talk to her anymore or see her in the same light. I had a handful of emotions and hate built up, and forgiveness was the last thing on my mind. After a time, I was able to look past my grudges (no pun intended) and find forgiveness for my Mother. I missed my Mom terribly and I decided to take a step towards something easier than hate. When I first visited her again it was very awkward, "I know you’re shaking my hand like it is the first time, are we alright?” It being our first encounter in almost two years after the turmoil made it strange, but after the forgiveness and the tears and love we rekindled, I thought to myself, 'Were the grudges really worth it? Was the time spent in negativity really doing anybody any good?' No. This song for me is about looking past the grudges, the hurt, the hate, and questioning is it/was it really worth losing someone special for?
I want to thank Paramore for continuing to produce music despite the personal struggles you all have endured in your personal lives - we as fans know it wasn't and isn't easy. 'After Laughter' is very special to all of us and appears to be the most raw and non sugar-coated Paramore album, yet wrapped up into the most addicting melodies you still can't help but bounce your head along to. Thank you from the bottom of my heart and as Hayley would say, “We love you we love you”... we are (all) Paramore.
- Greg (@whoagreg)
As soon as this song came on, I knew it would be a bop. Honestly nothing could have prepared me for the lyrical content of this song. The lyrics came as a surprise as I, someone starting my mid-twenties, realized the parallels between my thinking and Hayley’s. Too often we romanticize past experiences or future events, when maybe we just need to be aware of our needs then and there.
The song keeps such an upbeat pace with a realistic point of view. The phrase “you’re your own worst critic” runs through my head as Hayley sings, “I don’t need no help, I can sabotage me by myself.” Her voice then wails as she sings the final chorus - she’s given it all she’s got. If I could learn one lesson from this song it’s prioritizing yourself and to not be so hypercritical of all you do.
("If you can’t love yourself how in the hell are you gonna love somebody else, can I get an amen?" Thank you, RuPaul.)
- Kelly (@kellyquackquack)
When fans first saw the song title, we figured it was going to be heavy. The melody in 'Idle Worship' sounds like a soundtrack to anguish and causes that 'butterfly feeling' in our stomach from beginning to end, like when you're about to do something but you still need the courage to do it.
They needed to vent. With parts that say "be sure to put your faith in something more" and "there's not a single person here who's worthy," they want to make it clear that they aren't perfect, and that you need to stop putting this picture you created of them on a pedestal, because that "doesn't look a thing like" them and they want to stop feeling like they have to meet your expectations, because they "hate to let you down."
And the lyrics do speak for itself: admit you weren't expecting to hear, "Baby, I'm not your superhuman." And 'Idle Worship' isn't just about Paramore; it brought truths that needed to be said, and many other artists must feel the same way they do.
It's about not "wasting" your faith on what you expect celebrities to be, while you can put it in yourself.
- Victor (@victorsebrito)
Undoubtedly one of the bravest songs on the record, ‘No Friend’ is the first Paramore song ever to not feature Hayley Williams’ iconic vocals. Instead, mewithoutYou’s Aaron Weiss steps in to deliver some of his trademark poetic lyrics. Weiss' vocals are mixed so low that trying to pluck out decipherable lines can begin to feel like a treasure-hunt. That being said, patient fans are rewarded with a treasure trove full of beautiful writing. Lines such as, "More transparent hands / To drop a nickel in our basket and we'll do our riot dance," perfectly blend the song's overall message with clever references to Paramore's past discography. 'No Friend' is a continuation from 'Idol Worship' in many ways, dealing with the negative side of celebrity culture and how harmful it can be for artists' when their fans view them as being more than human.
Instrumentally, it is easily the darkest song on ‘After Laughter’. A synth creates an eerie vibe that contrasts with Taylor York’s hopeful guitar riff, a reflection of the chaotic mess of emotions that seemed to be present during the making of this album. The majority of the song was recorded live in the studio. The music reflects this, sounding like a group of friends working out their emotions using their instruments as opposed to their words. Zac Farro’s drumming shines on this song in particular, the crashing of cymbals dominating the song’s track.
‘No Friend’ ends with a powerful story about diving into dangerous waters in pursuit of a ‘fur coat’. Only upon reaching it does the narrator realise that the coat is in fact a bear. Friends safe on land tell the person to let go and join them back on the shore, but the bear refuses to let them do so. The metaphor is an important reminder that what you want most can often change forms. What seems harmless from afar can end up consuming you once you manage to grab hold of it. Chasing your dreams can lead you down dangerous paths. Following your heart can cost you dearly. Weiss clearly understands the toll that the past few years have taken on his friends, and has written this beautiful piece as a means of demonstrating that to them. This song clearly means a lot to the band, and it's great to see Paramore fans accepting such an experimental song so willingly.
- Lauren (@parascots)
'Tell Me How' is an album closer for the ages. It stands out from the rest of the band’s catalogue as an eerily poignant, anxiety-ridden piano ballad, but doesn’t lack what makes 'After Laughter' so special: brutally honest lyrics and a unique instrumentation. It closes the album as a somber letter of loss, a plea for closure, a vulnerable ballad. The haunting melodies remind me of sitting in my car in a parking lot past midnight—the feeling of isolation and introspection, but being completely vulnerable and visible at the same time.
With a swelling piano underneath ethereal vocals, its instrumentation is simple and gloomy. The beat that kicks in just after the first chorus feels like feeling your heart beating through your chest when you’re nervous. The confession-like lyrics give the song an intimacy that Paramore hadn’t tapped into until 'After Laughter', especially the bridge, which ends with the lyric, “Of all the weapons you fight with / Your silence is the most violent.” This song is hypnotic as it transports you to a place where you’re forced to confront your demons.
'After Laughter' is Paramore’s most honest and gut-wrenching album that will have you dancing to one song and crying to the next, and the choice to tie up the loose ends on this album with an emotional rollercoaster like 'Tell Me How' solidifies it as such. The song (and album) ends with the lyric, “I can still believe,” which is a perfect, hopeful ending to 'After Laughter' in my eyes.
- Carly (@ylracbutler)