Comeback singles are a notoriously difficult thing to get right, but, when you’re Paramore, the margin for error becomes almost impossible to navigate. In the four year gap since their polarising self-titled album, the group’s fanbase has split into to opposing camps: those who love the band’s last bubblegum-and-neon phase, and those who staunchly refuse to acknowledge it.
With that in mind, it would have been so easy for the newly reunited trio to return to the emo-tinged pop-punk with which they made their name, but their decision to push firmly in the opposite direction was undeniably the right one.
‘Hard Times’ is a far cry from their guitar-heavy angst days, but it is also a step away from the generic power-pop that pervaded the last album. The summery festival vibes are still there, but this time they are underpinned by nostalgia, seen in everything from the overwhelmingly 80’s pop-art visuals to the Depeche Mode synth. Hayley’s vocals are unmistakable, but they are styled into what might be the most danceable track of the band’s history, a track that when coupled with her new Blondie-esque bangs seem to signal a direction both effortlessly vintage and quintessentially fresh.
If Hard Times is anything to go by, After Laughter (released on May 12th) is set to be the return that none of us expected, but the one we needed all along. It may not be what the old fans wanted or even what the band set out to make, but it stands to be the shake-up that both the rock and pop world desperately need.