Happy After Laughter day! Paramore‘s fifth album is finally here, and it’s so great to have them back. Paramore has been in my life for nine years now, and I’ve been listening to this band through it all: finding them when I was a weird, shy kid; listening through break ups and the end of friendships, through anxiety and depression; and now, through recovery. Paramore have one of the strongest discographies out there and it’s fascinating to follow their evolution. Because the band has been in my life for so long, I reflect on the memories I’ve shared with their music every time I listen to them. I discovered Paramore all the way back in 2008 and I am so happy I did.
I was a shy kid. I was anxious as well as shy and I still feel lost at times. I was 12 when I found Paramore, Twilight was a huge phenomenon in 2008 and the Paramore songs on the soundtrack blew me away. I heard Decode on an Australian music channel called [V] Hits. At the time, I was bored with the pop music that saturated radio, not that it was bad, but I couldn’t relate to it. I heard Decode one afternoon and loved it immediately. I was captivated by Hayley Williams’ powerful voice, the haunting guitars, the chorus (“How did we get here? When I used to know you so well”), everything about that song was perfect. I told my dad about the song when he got home from work that night – my dad is a musician, a very good singer and guitarist – and he loved the song too. He downloaded their most recent album for me, which was RIOT!. I listened to it non-stop.
I come from a Greek family. My parents were strict as I was growing up, which meant that on school holidays, I stayed with my grandmother. I was far away from my two friends on holidays, and all I had outside of my family was music. That was okay with me. I listened to RIOT! every day and had a new favourite song every second day. A few stood out to me more than others: For A Pessimist, I’m Pretty Optimistic, When It Rains, and Let The Flames Begin. I still adore all three tracks and they’re still some of my favourite all-time Paramore songs. I needed more Paramore in my life, so I downloaded All We Know Is Falling. I loved that album, too.
All We Know Is Falling is what I needed from music back in 2009 as a thirteen year old: angsty, dark (at times), and, of course, another Paramore album. Franklin was the song I resonated with most. I had just started high school, I only had two friends, and I felt like an outsider. I didn’t enjoy the work we did at school, I was lonely, so my only escape was music. I was content with sitting at the computer and plugging my headphones into my iPod and just listening to Paramore. I got called “emo” and “weird” and while it bothered me a little, at least I had music. I loved the lyrics to Franklin at the time, especially:
“This place we live, it is not where we belong“
I finally felt like I was understood. I was an outsider who just wanted to get away and never felt like I belonged anywhere. I still think Franklin is a lovely song, particularly the sweet harmonies between Hayley and Josh in the chorus. Paramore were a band above all their peers and they still are (I may be slightly biased).
2009 was a strange year for me: starting high school, my grandfather died, and Paramore’s third album Brand New Eyes was released. I loved it, and it was the first CD I ever bought. However, I sensed some tension between the members of the band when I absorbed Brand New Eyes. I frequently visited music sites, forums, and paramore.net. I needed to know everything about Paramore.
Playing God is such a special song. Another one of my favourites. Playing God starts off with such a tender, simple melody, and Hayley hits it out of the park with relatable lyrics starting from the very first line.
“Can’t make my own decisions,
Or make any with precision“
I interpret that line in a different way than Hayley intends for the song, but as an indecisive, anxious person, that line hits me pretty hard. I separated myself from religion, and the reason for that is also in Playing God:
“Next time you point a finger,
I’ll point you to the mirror“
I know too many people who have judged and belittled me and use their beliefs as defence. I’ll point them to the mirror, alright.
I included this song for one reason: those notes Hayley hits. Unbelievable.
I found my first boyfriend in 2010. I was only 14, but I loved that boy. Things didn’t end well. I couldn’t listen to Paramore much after the break up, I talked about them constantly to him and I had connected the band to him. I finally overcame that, I don’t remember when, the years of 2010-2013 were a blur. I needed my band back – I cried and cried as I fell in love with Paramore all over again. Through Paramore, I listened to related bands, and bands that Hayley talked about. I was discovering all this music and it was incredible. I still live for discovering music. It brings me so much joy, and Paramore started it.
I finally saw Paramore live in January 2014. I was suffering from severe depression and anxiety, and unfortunately, I couldn’t enjoy the concert. I was also in the mindset that “pop music is bad” or “less than” other things I listened to. I’m embarrassed by that now, when I’m 21 and pop music is currently my favourite genre. How did I pass up jams like Now, Ain’t It Fun and Still Into You? Downright brilliant songs. Hayley’s vocals in Now are amazing, Ain’t It Fun takes us all to church and Still Into You is so bloody catchy. And it reminds me of my partner, the most supportive, loving person I’ve ever met. I love connecting Paramore to positive things now.
“Lost the battle, win the war“
Where does that leave us now? After Laughter is here, and it’s the saddest, most personal album yet. When I say it’s the saddest, I don’t mean Hayley sounds defeated. She acknowledges that things are wrong and she needs to work hard to get better. Most of the songs on After Laughter are upbeat, fun and catchy, with sadness and doubt creeping through. Pop songs with dark lyrics have always been my favourite songs to listen to, and now Paramore have created an album full of songs like that. I’m stunned. I don’t want to say too much about After Laughter, I don’t want to spoil it, it’s an album that needs to be listened to in your own way. But, Fake Happy and 26 will emotionally wreck you and you’ll love it. This is the next natural step in their evolution, a cohesive, glorious pop album.
“All that I want is a hole in the ground
You can tell me when it’s alright for me to come out“
“Hard times, gonna make you wonder why you even try“
“For all I know
The best is over and the worst is yet to come“
Hmm, I think it’s the other way around, Paramore. The best is yet to come with a band as strong as you.