Paramore will release After Laughter, their first new album since 2013’s self-titled album, on May 12. Ahead of its release, here’s everything we know about the record.
We’ve already heard two singles from the album: “Hard Times” and “Told You So”
“Hard Times” was released on April 19 as the record’s first single. It marks a noticeable shift away from their pop-punk sound—which made them great enough to make our list of the 21st century’s best pop-punk choruses—toward more funkier textures, influenced by artists like Talking Heads or even a latter-day artist like St. Vincent, who notably plays around with rock n’ roll conventions. Here’s how our own Jordan Sargent described it: “The riff is easily the most danceable thing they’ve recorded, and the refrain that punctuates the chorus—”Hard times!”—feels like a bit of very classic ’80s pop songwriting.”
“Told You So” echoes the same sound. Here’s how Hayley Williams described the song’s genesis in an interview with Zane Lowe: “I’ve lost friendships or whatever. Everyone has; it’s not unique to being in a band, but I just kept feeling like I’ve always been in this position where I felt like there were people kinda waiting to tell me that they knew what the outcome was gonna be, and I was the only one that didn’t see it. I mean, had we not been through everything we’ve been through until this point, we wouldn’t be sitting here and we wouldn’t be enjoying it the way that we do and we wouldn’t have the deep kind of very honest friendships that we do now that feel life-giving. So that’s kinda where the song started.”
The record will not quite “rock”
The band’s Taylor York described it as such to the Times: “We’ve gotten to a point with our new music where we don’t really want to headbang anymore.” He also said his guitar tone is inspired by Afrobeat and what the Times called “other international sounds.” The band “can do whatever we want and then when Hayley gets on it, that’s what makes it Paramore,” York said.
The record features part of its “classic” lineup
In 2010, two of Paramore’s original members—brothers Zac and Josh Farro—quit the band in fit of acrimony, and appeared to burn several bridges on the way out. Josh referred to the band as “a manufactured product of a major-label,” and said Williams was the only member officially signed to their record label, Atlantic. “We’ve always been treated as less important than Hayley,” he said. “It’s been obvious how her family views things.”
Yikes! But time mends some bridges, and earlier this year, Zac rejoined the band. The reunion was apparently instigated at the behest of York, who himself joined the band ahead of their 2007 breakthrough album Riot!. “I needed a reset button,” Zac told the Times. Josh hasn’t said anything in public about the reunion—he hasn’t tweeted a reference to his brother since November 2016, though he did congratulate the band in 2014 for a Grammy nomination.
The record almost didn’t happen
Every Paramore record has featured a different lineup. Bassist Jeremy Davis, who’d initially left the band on acrimonious terms in 2007 before rejoining, once again left in 2015 on definitely bad terms. (He later sued them over money, and called Williams “backstabbing.”) If you’ll allow for some psychoanalyzing, perhaps the lack of lineup consistency has led to more pressure for Williams, always the band’s constant and engine. “You can run on the fumes of being a teenager for as long as you want, but eventually life hits you really hard,” she told the Times.
As such, the 2013 self-titled record might’ve ended up being their last: “I didn’t even know if we were going to make another record. There was a moment when I didn’t even want it to happen. Then it was like, I want it to happen, but I don’t know how we’re going to do it.”
They got some of that mojo back following their Parahoy! cruise
Parahoy!, which took place in March 2016, was a fancy cruise where the band—along with artists like Chvrches and Newfound Glory—sailed from Miami to Mexico, playing music and having a general ball. (You know how those artist-sponsored cruises go.) In an interview with DIY, Williams said she was feeling sad during the cruise: at that point, the band was down to just two permanent members, her and York. But then, they did a meet-and-greet that gave them back some of their inspiration.
“People were coming up and looking us very deeply in the eyes and genuinely telling us things like, ‘Oh man, we’re so proud of you guys’ or ‘We’re so happy we get to be a part of this music’. These really incredibly genuine sentiments. There are always these really nice reminders with Paramore that it’s not just about us. I think that’s why we’ve been able to survive all of this shit: because it’s not really about us. When you’re looking into people’s eyes and you know they’re going through something probably worse than you, it just gives you a fresh perspective. We came home from that with a little bit of extra energy to get going with writing again. It was a good thing.” Your fandom is always appreciated, Paramore fans.
The record has only been in the works since 2016
In January, the band posted an Instagram noting that they’d begun writing and demoing songs for the new record “about a year ago.” Williams also said the conception wasn’t “an easy task,” echoing comments made since. “The problem about comparing yourself to… yourself… is that even though it’s better than looking elsewhere, you’re still looking in the wrong direction. for me, it wasn’t until i trusted that the past is finished with me that i could go looking for what’s next,” she said.
No pop! No pop!
Respect to Taylor Swift, who includes Williams as a squad affiliate, but the new record will feature no explicitly manufactured pop crossover hits. “We’ve somehow earned our freedom,” York told the Times. “I can’t imagine getting up there and playing a Max Martin song. At that point we might as well just stop.” (Here’s a very amusing thread on pop stan message board ATRL where its users debate the merits of York’s critiques.)
They’ll be touring behind the record, obviously
The band already has a lot of European dates lined up for this summer, along with some sparse appearances as North American festivals. (What’s up, Iowa State Fair?) A full North American schedule hasn’t been announced, but earlier this year they confirmed their intention to tour.
Hayley Williams’ hair is no longer its trademark red
This much is plain as day: It’s blonde.