An Essay on After Laughter

In the most mundane moments, Paramore’s fifth studio album, After Laughter, has created a light for new and returning fans across the world. It was just an ordinary Wednesday in April 2017 when the band took a chance and released “Hard Times” (now certified Gold), their first track in years with a much different sound that we had last heard from the band.

This new Paramore was different, but bold. Hard Times quickly became an anthem for fans who struggles with issues like depression or anxiety. I was on board when it immediately became clear that this music was seeking to do something more than just entertain us as listeners. It was seeking to be a beacon of hope and a catalyst of change for anyone who’s had those moments of after laughter in their life.

According to Hayley Williams herself, “After Laughter is about the look on people’s faces when they’re done laughing. If you watch somebody long enough, there’s always this look that comes across their face when they’re done smiling, and I always find it fascinating to wonder what it is that brought them back to reality.”

For some, this short collection of songs could sound like simple pop music with very little to offer, but for fans and those who look deeper, you’ll find that these songs have something very special sitting just below the surface.

The song that I feel like I relate to the most has to be Rose-Colored Boy. It was initially my least favorite, but grew into one of my favorite Paramore songs ever (possibly my favorite of theirs altogether). It’s narrated by a person who has a really rough time looking at the world in an optimistic light when it seems like everything around them is not the way that it should be.

The chorus reads:

“Just let me cry a little bit longer

I ain’t gonna smile if I don’t want to

Hey man, we all can’t be like you

I wish we were all rose-colored too

My rose-colored boy”

With a world pressuring happiness at every corner, it’s hard to recognize your own anxiety when everyone around you is telling you how you should feel. It’s just relatable for anyone who is still struggling to figure out their place in this big, big world. The song, and album as a whole, has taught me to be more of myself and not hide behind the person that I’m expected to be. 

If last year’s Twenty One Pilots concert triggered the spark in me that made me realize how much music truly means to me and affects me, then After Laughter just assured me of the fact that music is where I’m destined to thrive. As I sit on the cusp of turning 25 (when my official quarter-life crisis can begin), I know that I will always have this album in my back pocket for the ‘hard times’ (pun intended). Things can be rough sometimes, but with a resting place like this, in the single most transformative album of my life so far, even the blackest holes don’t seem quite as dark as they used to be.