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New Music: Paramore

By Rachel Woodward, May 19 2017 —

American rock band Paramore returns with their fifth studio album, After the Laughter, but the album has little in common with the rock genre at all. The underwhelming 12-track album — which feels most akin to Weezer’s breezy “Island in the Sun” — is nothing to write home about.

The album starts off with “Hard Times,” a confusingly tropical synth-pop tune that sets the tone for most of the album. Hayley Williams’s powerhouse vocals get lost behind the band’s attempted beach party soundscape. The track works, but it’s a big jump from the group that released emo anthems like “Misery Business” earlier in their career.52352910

After the Laughter continues on a lull until “Fake Happy” brings the band back to its angsty roots. While the album’s sometimes over-the-top pop vibes seem out of place and are far from what Paramore fans are used to, the track features familiar lyricism. It starts off in almost slam-poem style backed by minimal guitar and Williams’s voice before quietly jumping right back into the album’s laid-back pop style.

Williams then slows the album down with the ballad “26.” It’s a pleasant and sombre track, even though it seems like a strange direction for the group. But just when listeners think they might have escaped the pop-saturated collection, “Pool” throws them right back in. Like most tracks on the album, this isn’t a bad song — it just sounds incredibly out of place in the group’s discography.

Again, the album slows after this track, and while “Grudges” has a nice ring to it and does a decent job of showcasing Williams’s vocals, it still falls flat and fails to stand apart from the other tracks. “Caught in the Middle” has the same effect — although Williams is able to shine through, the song feels like a soundtrack to a teen movie set on a beach and featuring lots of oversized sunglasses.

The final three tracks tie the album up similarly to how it started. In fact, “Tell Me How” might be the closest track to what fans are used to hearing from the group.

Overall, the album is a decent listen but doesn’t cut deep. It pales in comparison to Paramore’s earlier albums due to its vapid lyrics and overproduced soundscapes. If you’re looking for a forgettable yet fun pop-synth album, give it a listen.

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