Paramore soars with 80s sounding synth-pop perfection of an album
I won’t be reviewing songs with music videos already. You can figure out by yourself how awesome and 80s sounding Hard Times and Told You So are (at this point I guess you already figured that already). Explaining it here would be redundant. But significant nonetheless. But my hands are tired from typing so I’m two songs short.
After almost 4 years, Paramore is back with their fifth studio album entitled After Laughter. Their latest offering marks a new era for the band with their 80s and synth-pop sounding album.
Also, a live performance of Hard Times.
Told You So
Here's their live performance of Told You So.
Rose-Colored is the darkest song off the album.
The song starts with a loud bang followed by these 80s sounding synths accompanied by catchy drum beats. After a few seconds Hayley’s cheery line comes in -
“Low-key, No pressure! Just hang with me and my weather.”
After a few lines or so you’re already engaged with the groovy and fun song, which would remind you of an old Cyndi Lauper track (if you know about her. If not, go listen to Girls Just Wanna Have Fun).
But don't get fooled by the production of the song, the meaning of it is pretty dark.
My first encounter with the "rose-colored" term was with Katy Perry's politically-driven song Chained to the Rhythm.
My first encounter with the "rose-colored" term was with Katy Perry's politically-driven song Chained to the Rhythm.
I learned that it means “tending to think of things as being better than they really are.”
So when I heard it on the album it was clear to me what Hayley meant and who she was singing the song to – her now ex-husband Chad Gilbert.
I know depression can be crippling. There is that lurking feeling of just wallowing in your sadness, not wanting to get up from bed in the morning, and just wanting to be left alone.
Being the good husband that Chad was he was always trying to make Hayley feel better. But instead of lifting her spirits up it did the opposite to her then wife.
The lively instrumentals in the song may conceal its dark message but if you listen closely for many times you’ll be shocked at how depressing the song is.
Here’s a taste of the song’s gloomy message:
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 sounds like a song Boyz II Men would sing or have performed in the 90s. It is also about finding peace within yourself after being able to extend forgiveness to someone.
Here’s something: Something.
Don’t mind this bit: The more you love someone the more vulnerable you are to them. In that case, the people we love the most are the ones who can cause so much pain in our life. Does that mean that the more we love them, the easier it is to extend forgiveness?
I believe that if we love someone so much it is easier to look past their mistakes than it is with a mere acquaintance. We choose to forgive because we love the one who caused the pain more than his or her mistakes (you ask how someone can love someone’s mistake? It can be possible if that person keeps on bring up the issue or relieves the painful memories repetitively it’s exhausting.)
You will be introduced to a slow intro with Hayley’s somewhat somber-sounding voice over an acoustic guitar. And then, the synths welcome you into a track embodying the “dance while you cry” tagline.
Sometimes ‘fake it till you make it’ works. But most of the time (in my experience) it does not. I think being true to yourself first and being accepting of your situation (whatever that is) is the first step to finding the light at the end of the tunnel (sometimes there’s nothing out there, but believe me on this – there is and will be, you just have to move further forward. You’ll find it!).
This is a cliché, but I’m going to say it, it’s okay to be not okay. It really is. But don’t go wallowing yourself in it longer. You must do something about it. Talk to someone. Do something that makes you genuinely happy. But if faking it does you good – do it. It’s better than nothing at all.
Here’s a music video suggestion: In the bridge part (the ba da ba da ba da bit), it would be perfect to have them in slomo. What’s more interesting is them being shot by paintballs (still in slomo, because everything seems dramatic in slomo). That is a visual treat, if you ask me.
Here’s a Huffington post I stumbled upon talking about how to ‘fake happy’
Although it lacked of the 80s vibe, its message fits in perfectly with the album concept.
26 is my personal favorite from the album. You ask why? Because as of writing this delayed review I am 26. And man, life is not easy; especially getting old.
When you were younger you had these dreams of a bright and happy future. But growing up you’ll soon discover that life is hard. You’ll experience heartbreak, disillusionment, discouragement, and maybe depression. There will come a point in your life when you’ll be confronted of the harshness of life that you’ll lose the will to keep on dreaming and pursuing what you want to be.
This is Hayley’s message or love letter to her younger self – that how hard life gets and how many times you fall down, always get yourself back up. Dust yourself off and continue moving forward.
That is why if you still have that spark of hope in you don’t let it die down. Hold on to that little flicker of light. Fan it with everything that you have so that it’ll burn into a blue flame. Because your hope will carry you through many things in life – even the most painful and unforgettable memories.
The song is an amalgam of the band’s past songs: Hate to See Your Heart Break, Last Hope and The Only Exception.
The production is simple with only strings and percussions driving the song with Hayley’s sweet voice as the focal point.
One more thing: John Mayer approves of the importance of the song.
Favorite line -
“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”
Pool is a refreshing love song – it is the “Still Into You” of After Laughter
The song starts with a beautiful cacophony of wind chimes and an ice cream truck jingle loop, creating the hook of the song, followed by the drums.
I also love the guitar lines here.
It’s Hayley saying “I’ve been deeply hurt by our first breakup but now I’m taking a second chance at us – a second chance at love. I know the risks but I’m prepared to dive into this because the adrenaline rush of falling in love again and experiencing the highs more than the lows of it is just too good to miss.”
“You are the wave I could never tame.” – Ugh please! So romantically thought of.
There is a part before the bridge which kind of reminds me of the introduction of Still Into You. But that’s just me being nostalgic.
I can picture the video for this with the band frolicking in a pool with colorful floats.
I’d also love an underwater shot if that’s possible.
Grudges is my most favorite song sonically (and also Pool).
I also like that the message it conveys is about forgiveness (which is also a track from After Laughter).
What made the song even better is the addition of Zac Farro’s (the subject of the song) vocals in the bridge. Yes, Hayley was right to point out that Zac’s voice was perfect on the track. But his confrontational line tops it all for me.
For context, Zac left the band with his brother Josh in 2010. The split was not what we expected it to be – it was an ugly one. But that was eons ago. And now that they have matured and learned so much about life it was fitting for them to heal and reunite again.
Me inside Hayley’s head:
“It was like meeting an old friend for the first time. You know them but only to a certain degree.
I mean, we could have just called each other up and patch up things but we did not. And so we let time pass by waiting for fate to bring us together which luckily happened. I’m so glad it did because there’s so much catching up to do and so many new memories to make. I am so happy to continue making music with my best friends.”
Me inside my head:
“The real reason why this song means so much to me is because I can relate to it personally. *Nothing follows*
Caught in the Middle
Caught in the Middle sits with Rose-Colored Boy on the dark table. They can both eat together, I can find another table.
Both songs share the same bleak message. The only difference is the subjects of the tracks - Rose-Colored Boy is for Hayley’s ex-husband while Caught in the Middle is Hayley’s song for herself.
When you’re caught in the middle you neither go back nor move forward; you just want to stay in the same position – that same spot. And that is what Hayley is singing about: When she thinks of the past she can’t help but cry thinking “Oh no, I am already old.” This gets worse because when she’s confronted with the future looming before her it scares her (in her head it could be “No, I am getting older.”)
In the bridge she’s saying that she’s the only one capable of sabotaging herself. She does not need any of our help because she does it so perfectly. But the way I see it, she’s saying that she has control over whatever situation she’s in (which is more optimistic). See, it’s how we see things. It’s our perspective (half full, hall empty glass).
Here’s a fact: This is the first song that was recorded on the record, so it was pretty clear what theme they were going for with the album (even if it was not the first song written).
Caught in the Middle sounds like a funky, moody and a meaner Holiday Interlude (this revelation came to me after listening to it a couple of times. I listened to their Self-Title album and found the answer I was looking for).
It has thick guitar lines punctuated in different but perfect places in the song. Also the drums is on point here, I’m not kidding.
One time, I caught myself swaying left and right to this song. I can’t help it. Also, I’m not ashamed to say that this is a danceable track.
Idle Worship is a wordplay on Idol Worship. In this song, Hayley sings passionately of her frustration on people looking up to her as someone great and powerful. She professes her humanity and the fact that she is as hopeless as we are to a certain degree. She is just like us people.
I love how she puts emphasis on the line I hate to let you down, with down prolonged and high-pitched.
When we listen to a song peppered with words such as la-la-la-la-la and eh-eh-eh-eh we can deduce its message as cheery and light. But not on this track. No. This is a call to action from a prominent figure to view artists as humans with feelings and emotions. And because they are humans they commit mistakes too like all of us.
I myself am inspired by so many artists. I am drawn to them because of their creativity, passion, and their perspective on so many things. I look up to them as inspirations not as gods.
Also, I love how subtle yet important the modulations Hayley made in the song.
When this song starts to play I press next immediately. Not that I don’t like the song, I just can’t sing along with it. I know the lyrics is available but it’s just mouthful.
Tell Me How
The last track off After Laughter is heavy on the emotions. It starts with an emotional piano accompaniment and continues until the second verse.
Throughout the second half of the song the message is then made clearer:
In life, the friends we have when we were young will not be the same ones who we will be celebrating our 30th birthday with. They will not be the ones celebrating every important moment in our life. They will be replaced because it seemed to be the right thing to do or because you have grown apart. The hardest thing to wrap your head around with is the possibility of them leaving because of something tragic – like a band split. This is true for Hayley as this is the message of the song.
In Tell Me How Hayley is confronted with the dilemma: staying in the suffocating situation – that is to keep on hoping that something good will happen or letting go of the unbearable and moving on anew.
The bridge always gets me all the time. It is true that constant communication is important for a relationship (platonic or romantic) to grow. Without it, the relationship will not survive or even thrive.
The song/album ends with Hayley being optimistic that even though she might have lost so many friends, there is still hope that the past wounds would heal. And even if she is in the darkest part of the tunnel there will be always that glimmer of light at sight.
I have always loved Paramore. But this album proved that I couldn’t love them more because as much as it is flawlessly produced, the message of each track is relatable: Life is hard but it does not mean we can’t dance through the pain.