Paramore — After Laughter ANALYSIS & REVIEW
This album wonderfully exemplifies the importance of melodic energy when working with a simple form. If musicians are going to use an obvious, easily detectable form, like the verse-chorus form here, they better play to the form’s strengths. While a verse-chorus form could be weak due to the ridiculously simple road map, the weakness is obliterated if there’s always something unique and wonderful behind all of the obvious turns. Paramore offer a clinic in melodic transitions from verse to chorus here.
Overall, there were great changes in register, shape, and energy within the form, all while being fun and singable, to bring delight to the music. Songs like “Rose-Colored Boy”, “Idle Worship”, and “Pool” do this exceptionally well. They did it so well, in fact, that the two songs without the obvious verse-chorus form, “26” and ”Old Friend”, were noticeably weaker melodically (though not in other aspects). The only consistent problem with these melodies was their pacing. Their segmentation and use of space was all too ordinary and generic. However, with energetic and lavish lines that travel around as well as these, their effect is hardly deteriorated at all. They always found a fun melodic motive to stick in somewhere, which not only fit but also made the music very interesting. This is truly why Paramore is one of the best at what they do.
On one level, these harmonies are hardly anything special. Analyzing the chord usage here brings back a result that seems rather straightforward and uninteresting. Taking these off the page and into the ear, though, is where Paramore found creativity. Despite a bland harmonic language, countermelodies ran rampant and there was nearly always something stirring up the structure to turn plain chord progressions into a bracing journey. This is especially true in “Told You So” and “No Friend”.
When the harmony was fully delivered by one instrument instead of multiple, such as the guitar in “26” and the piano in “Tell Me How”, the harmonic color grew immensely. That might be more of a timbral issue, but it’s worth pointing out the creativity they found with one instrument as opposed to multiple. Rhythm throughout was typically strong and emphasized the feel well, only becoming too plodded and relaxed in the opening song “Hard Times”. Not many bands, especially pop-punk bands, can make their music this interesting with a small harmonic palate. This only further separates Paramore from that pack.
This sound was charged, clean, and best of all made seemingly inane premises sound enjoyable. Like the melody, the timbre did exceptionally well at leading into important musical moments. Although it came to be expected after a while, it was truly what the music needed. I appreciated their ability to sound genuine through different tempos and techniques. The high-strung and involved textures in “Grudges” and “Fake Happy” made me thoroughly enjoy two songs that I never thought I would based on their childish and immature messages.
There was also a strong and powerful feel within softer and thinner textures, like in “Forgiveness” and “Tell Me How”. Other songs met in the middle and didn’t have as much purpose and drive behind the synthetic sounds, but there was always a nice youthful feel. I’m happy that the overall sound wasn’t necessarily sincere, because a band shouldn’t really take itself too seriously with these kinds of light, common sounds and simple lyrical material. Paramore accomplished what they set out do and created a work that simply sounds like they’re having fun with what they’re doing, and that’s always delightful for the listener.
After being one of the most prominent pop-punk bands 10 years ago, Paramore continues to excite and put out interesting material, which is much more than what many of their former contemporaries can say. With the return of drummer Zac Farro, along with more invigorating and memorable lines, this fifth album of theirs is sure to be loved by many. While I said that their lyrical content was simple, its meanings are very relatable and can cater to a large millennial crowd. Their influential power is strong, and this album will likely live on for a long time.