After four long years, Paramore is back. The new album After Laughter is a shift from their adored pop-punk sound, but if there’s one thing Paramore excels at, it’s staying on top.
While other early-2000 pop-punk bands have fallen by the wayside, Paramore thrives through tactful reinvention. In their 2013 self-titled album, we began to see a shift in direction toward a more pop sound in hit songs like “Ain’t It Fun” and “Still Into You.”
Now, that change has turned into a revolution in After Laughter which is a fusion of sonic 80s instrumentals (i.e., Talking Heads) with contemporary nuances.
Despite the incredibly refreshing sounds, what really sticks out on this album are the lyrics. They’re some of the darkest we’ve seen from the band.
The lyrics are a stark contrast to the upbeat sound of the record, yet there’s something oddly comforting about dancing to words that mimic the hardships of well…. life.
This album make depression sound good? Sounds crazy but keep reading.
Here are 5 songs off the album that turn depression upside-down:
1. Fake Happy
I feel so fake happy
And I bet everybody here
Is just as insincere
We’re all so fake happy
And I know fake happy
Every person has felt “fake happy” before. With social media, almost everyone is putting on a persona. We would rather conceal our sadness than become vulnerable. Lyrically, Fake Happy paints an accurate picture of our current state of affairs. So many put on a smile when inside, they are dying.
This song isn’t blaming anyone for their reaction either. Instead, it is more of a reflective piece. It’s saying “everyone does this including me and sadly we’re all pros at it.”
Maybe it’s a natural survival instinct. It’s not productive to dwell on our sadness or wear it on our sleeve even if we wanted to. Eventually, we all have to get up and go to work.
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
This particular song screams Hayley Williams. It’s probably the rawest tune on the album because it describes a deep state of hopelessness. Anyone who has gone through depression or has ever felt hopeless will understand.
Throughout the song, Williams sings “Hold on to hope if you got it,” clearly communicating the moments in life when it feels like hope is nonexistent. In that state, there is no light, only darkness.
It should come to no surprise though. Williams recently opened up about having depression to an interview with FADER stating,
“For the first time in my life, there wasn’t a pinhole of light at the end of the tunnel. I thought, I just wish everything would stop. It wasn’t in the sense of, I’m going to take my life. It was just hopelessness. Like, What’s the point? I don’t think I understood how dangerous hopelessness is. Everything hurts.”
Wow, I don’t think it gets any rawer than that.
3. Rose Colored Glasses
Leave me here a little bit longer
I think I wanna stay in the car
I don’t want anybody seeing me cry now
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
Boy you ain’t ever seen my mind
The first time I heard this song, I laughed.
It’s honest, raw, and real. All the people who told me to “snap out” of my depression flashed in my mind. People told me I wasn’t trying enough to get better or that I was “too negative.” These types of comments made me feel worse.
Sometimes you just need to feel sad. Sometimes you need to feel hopeless, and you don’t want someone shoving hope down your throat. This song embodies those feelings to the fullest degree plus it’s a killer jam.
4. Hard Times
All that I want
Is to wake up fine
Tell me that I’m alright
That I ain’t gonna die
All that I want
Is a hole in the ground
You can tell me when it’s alright
For me to come out
Believe it or not, this is not my favorite song on the album. Far from it. Don’t get me wrong, I like the song but I like so many others more. Still, lyrically this song jumps out.
It is one of the few songs we hear mentions of death and hopelessness. Later, the lyrics describe the times that make you want to give up.
(Hard time) gonna make you wonder why you even try
(Hard times) gonna take you down and laugh when you cry
(These lives) and I still don’t know how I even survive
There’s a looming message of “why bother” that is instantly relatable to anyone who has had “hard times.” They say bad things come in threes, but what do you do when they come in fives or tens?
This song is dark yet listening, your ears will think otherwise. The instrumentals are a standout. That addicting xylophone beat gets stuck in your head after a few listens.
5. Caught in the Middle
I can’t think of getting old
It only makes me want to die
And I can’t think of who I was
‘Cause it just makes me want to cry, cry, cry, cry
Can’t look back, can’t look too far ahead
You got the point, You got the message
I was dreamin’ life away
All the while just going blind
Can’t see the forest for the trees
Behind the lids of my own eyes
Nostalgia’s cool, but it won’t help me now
A dream is good if you don’t wear it out
With its killer baseline, it’s hard to realize how poignant the lyrics are in Caught in the Middle, however, it’s obvious these lyrics are rooted in a bad place. The song touches on the desire to dwell on the past, specifically moments that make us nostalgic. It also touches on the fear of getting older. So where does that leave us? Caught in the middle.
My mind wanders often. The future does not always seem the brightest, so I tend to think of the past. At the same time, thinking of the future gives me anxiety, so I’m kinda “caught in the middle” of it all.
Even if the album is not your cup of tea, you have to admit this is the most authentic we’ve seen the band in a long time. Paramore managed to turn a dark time into an album that brings a bit of brightness to the world. That is desperately needed these days.
& That’s the truth.
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