01. Hard Times
02. Rose-Colored Boy
03. Told You So
05. Fake Happy
09. Caught In The Middle
10. Idle Worship
11. No Friend
12. Tell Me How
Success is often the curse of young bands, especially the ones where the lead singer is widely regarded as 'the talent', and the band is managed by his/her parents. In this scenario, the other musicians usually end up as salaried staff and the band effectively becomes the singer's solo project and corporation, resulting in original band members quitting and suing each other. This sorry tale has applied to many bands over the years, and now, to my understanding, this also includes Paramore.
It was never going to end well. We've had walkouts, and the band was reduced to a three piece for the last studio album. They're a trio this time round too, except the bassist has quit and the original drummer Zac Farro has rejoined. Let's not forget it was Zac's own brother Josh who quit at the same time as Zac a few years ago. Confused? Me too.
Inter-band drama and politics aside, the important question from a fan point of view is "Is the new record any good?"
I heard the lead single Hard Times before the album came out. It seems like a natural progression from the Pop of the previous record, sounding like a modern take on 80's New Wave, cleverly weaving the vintage with the contemporary. Hard Times is one of those tracks that you hear once and instantly love. It's very dance-floor friendly and has massive cross-over potential. Unsurprisingly, it's already a huge hit single.
Now I've heard the whole record, I can see how it's polarised existing fans. The Heavy Rock guitars have completely gone and After Laughter is more of an 80's Pop album than a Rock album. I'm sure many cynics will cite the departure of original members as the reason for this fairly drastic change in direction, and will see Paramore as simply a popular brand and vehicle used to carry singer Hayley Williams' career further into mainstream territories. Maybe they'd be right? Either way, as far as 80's Pop albums go, this is a pretty good one. Hard Times is easily the best song on here, but there are some other bangers on here too such as Told You So, Pool, Caught In The Middle and Rose-Colored Boy.
All in all, After Laughter is pretty good. It's not the best Paramore album, in fact it's probably the worst. However, it is what it is, and I believe its detractors may view it less harshly in the future, depending on what direction Paramore takes after this. It's kinda like expecting a steak for dinner but finding out that you're getting ice cream instead.You can either moan about the absence of steak, or appreciate the ice cream and enjoy it.