The best way to sum up Paramore’s After Laughter is by its fifth track’s title, “Fake Happy.”
The album introduces itself to its audience with lead single “Hard Times.” The song, like much of the album, if a happy, upbeat track that makes you want to dance and sing along to, but when you read through lyrics, such as “hard times, gonna make you wonder why you even try,” you realise the song has a more depressing truth behind it. “Rose-Colored Boy” addresses this “fake happy” type of song style in a way, talking from a pessimist’s point of view to someone who has rose-colored glasses on, seeing the world in a beautiful and positive way. The fourth song, “Forgiveness,” slows the album for a moment. The song is more subdued in instrumentals, it’s not as upbeat or bubbly, and talks about being hurt by someone close to you and getting asked for forgiveness too soon. The song leads gracefully into “Fake Happy,” which begins on a demo-sounding recording of just raw vocals and acoustic guitar, until synth starts and leads into a full band tune. “Fake Happy” is a more upbeat song about putting on a fake smile to appear happy, even if you’re really not feeling happy inside, much like how I mentioned a lot of the songs on this record are, using happy instrumentals with depressing lyrics. A song I connect back to “Forgiveness” is “Grudges,” as it’s on the happier side and talks about moving past grudges and reconnecting with an old friend. As the album starts wrapping up, “Idle Worship” I think is an important one. Hayley WIlliams (vocalist) sings about how she’s “not your superhuman,” she’s just a normal person with issues, just like anyone else, talking directly about the topic of how many people idolize some people for the sole reason of them standing on a stage, when in reality everyone is just a person, who also needs help sometimes. The song does a great job at normalizing Williams, and every other person that is in a band or on a stage. “No Friend” is a weird, transitional-sounding song, but is posed as a full-length track that features subdued instrumentals and very faint, muffled speaking from Aaron Weiss (MewithoutYou), creating a story using various previous Paramore songs. After Laughter has a couple weird choices, such as “No Friend,” but in all it’s a great, fun, and humanizing record.
Overall: Lots of happy songs with sad lyrics, perfect for any mood, from dancing to crying.
Review by Shane Haley