After Laughter finds Paramore, like Carly Rae Jepsen and M83 before them, delving into the pantheon of ’80s pop and declaring, “There’s gold in them hills.” Awash in primary colors, After Laughter sheds the harder edge of its predecessor, Paramore, which accented its pop bona fides with chugging guitars and a distinctly rockist energy. Paramore, now five LPs and numerous highly publicized lineup changes into their career, aren’t doing anything fundamentally different than what they achieved on their best records, Paramore and Riot!: The hooks are near-uniformly great, and frontwoman Hayley Williams remains a magnetic lead vocalist, pushing her voice into high notes with the vocal cord equivalent of a punch (see the chorus on “Rose-Colored Boy”). The aesthetic shift toward new wave and ’80s pop that After Laughter represents is superficial, not structural.
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