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Paramore’s ‘After Laughter’ embraces a candy-coated, synth-heavy ’80s-style sound

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Three and a half stars

Paramore After Laughter

Paramore’s music has always been bright and upbeat, even when drenched in heavy guitars, but the band’s fifth album, After Laughter, takes that style to another level. It’s the second Paramore album in a row to follow a major lineup change, but as on the band’s 2013 self-titled album, singer Hayley Williams and guitarist Taylor York hunker down to write a collection of catchy, energetic pop-rock songs, with lyrics that channel bitterness and anger in a way that never sounds self-pitying. This time, the band moves even further from its pop-punk roots to embrace a candy-coated, synth-heavy ’80s-style sound. Lead single “Hard Times” could fit on an old Blondie album; the gloriously infectious “Fake Happy” could be the “Walking on Sunshine” of sadness; and wistful ballads “Forgiveness” and “Tell Me How” could have Paramore competing with Haim for the most 1983 band of 2017. Yet the album never sounds like prefab pop, with Williams’ deeply personal lyrics and York’s arena-ready riffs combining in a distinctive, off-kilter way. “We can’t keep holding onto grudges,” Williams sings on the peppy, melancholy “Grudges,” but if that angst continues to result in albums like After Laughter, maybe she ought to keep it.

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Josh Bell

Josh Bell is the film editor for Las Vegas Weekly, where he's been writing movie and TV reviews since 2002. ...

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