Paramore's After Laughter is a masterclass in sad pop. It's formed of seeming opposites: confessions of depression set against synths; huge, shiny choruses detailing the depths you plumb when you feel like your life is falling apart. The album finds a beauty in crying and dancing at the same time, best encapsulated by one of its most popular songs, "Rose-Colored Boy," for which Paramore released a music video on Monday.
On the hook, Hayley Williams sings: "Just let me cry a little bit longer / I ain't gonna stop if I don't want to." "Rose-Colored Boy" is a testament to allowing yourself to feel your feelings as fully as you need to, for as long as you want. Often, following difficult experiences or in the throes of mental illness, we're expected to shape up and get on with our lives, but sometimes that's just not possible. The song not only recognises that, but it celebrates it too.
The "Rose-Colored Boy" visual is located firmly in After Laughter's axis of feeling terrible but slapping a neon-coloured grin on anyway (incidentally, this is exactly what happens in another of the band's videos supporting the album, for "Fake Happy"). It sees Williams and her bandmates Zac Farro and Taylor York as delightfully 80s newsreaders who hate each other but have to suck it up and smile on TV for hours a day anyway. As well as showcasing some amazingly bad hair, it kind of sums up all of the feelings After Laughter tries to express.
Its 80s aesthetic, too, feels like a purposeful choice. Despite the important message the band's synthy, throwback (yet new) sound conveys, this new sonic direction has not been entirely popular with fans who preferred their more emo-leaning, guitar-based incarnation. It's true that After Laughter embodies a departure (though it was pointed towards by the band's fourth album, Paramore, an expansive thing that dipped into various genres). But considering the strength of the pop they're making, especially live, Paramore have made the switch about as seamlessly as they could have hoped to. Their tongue-in-cheek location of the "Rose-Colored Boy" video slap-bang in the 80s feels a little like a rebuke to those who have disavowed them based on their new sound influenced by the decade, and an indication that it's going to be sticking around for a while longer.
Essentially the video is all the best things about After Laughter packed into a four-and-a-half minute clip: humour, fun, a tinge of sadness and a load of emotional honestly. Watch it above, it's great.
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