Paramore sounds more pop than ever » Manila Bulletin Entertainment

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AUDIO JUNKIE:

American pop punk, alternative rock band Paramore returns with album number five titled “After Laughter.”

Paramore

It is their first outing since the eponymous release in 2013 which yielded fan-favorite tracks “Still Into You,” “Anklebiters,” and “Ain’t It Fun.” That one proved that despite some personnel shakeup, the band managed to stay true to its core and style.

The new set departs from all that. Forget those crunchy tight guitar flourishes and say hello to lighter, synth-keyboard drenched, “pop”-er Paramore. Indebted to ’80s style pop, several tracks echo some of that decades most influential acts, among them the Talking Heads as heard on the opening track “Hard Times.”

On “Caught In The Middle.” Paramore reminds a bit of Blondie’s “The Tide Is High.” “Rose Colored Boy” screams ’80s, too. Now, if there’s any doubt what decade the band is inspired from, the pop-funky electro synth style “I Told You So” dives definitive answer.

This is a surprising excursion at first listen but it grows on you. In fact, the synth-heavy, chorus-dripping guitars of “Grudges” burrow right deep into the ear with nice melodies. It could be bubblegum in another acts’ hands but with Paramore, it works.

By the way, Taylor York’s guitar work are still there but more subdued. And it does away with distortion and serves more like a funky punctuation in places, like on the bouncy new wave-inspired pop song “Pool.”

Paramore 'After Laughter' album cover (mb.com.ph)

Paramore ‘After Laughter’ album cover

Vocalist Hayley Williams writes brooding themes underneath the seeming slick and sheen of the songs in “After Laughter. “Fake Laughter” is self-explanatory, wherein she sings “You see it’s easy when I’m stomping on a beat. But no one sees me when I crawl back underneath.” Very good chorus right there.

Maybe the issues with former bandmates and the acrimonious splits is taking its toll on Williams – and it’s starting to leave a bitter taste? Whatever, her writing becomes an outlet, resulting in themes of frustration and self-sabotage.

After a rather morose opening on the acoustic guitar-driven “26,” she manages to spring in light by singing “Hold onto hope if you got it and don’t let it go for nobody.” Those looking for their “The Only Exception” fix will find it on the mid-tempo ballad “Tell Me Now.”

The album “After Laughter” surprises in a good way.

Clearly, change has come for Paramore too.

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