With the recent announcement that Tennessee alt-pop trio Paramore will be back in May with the release of its fifth studio album, After Laughter, the lead single Hard Times has arrived and it’s a head turner. Blending a classic 80s pop sounds with a clever edge and post-modern punk vestiges, it drops a wide funnel that you can’t help but fall into, taking you back in time while keeping a colourful lapel flapping wildly in the present.
For anyone else that grew up during the 80s and early 90s, it’ll be a vortex back to the heyday of MTV, when it was still pretty cool, especially with the equally throwback / reboot music video that goes with Hard Times. You can check it out for yourself below, but you might want to prepare yourself for being caught up, despite your natural instincts for tougher minutes.
Hard Times music video:
It’s not entirely without an alt-rock overdrive, it’s just that it’s counterbalanced with bouncing riffs and catchy hooks, but it works very well together to produce a great new single that’s as progressive as it is nostalgic. It starts out with a tinny calypso beat that chips into the track before the gain-topped electric guitar cuts in to provide a minor industrial tear to it all. The quieter middle eight wallows nicely towards the middle end and the electro close-out feels like Daft Punk might have had a gloved hand in it somewhere.
Hayley Williams’ vocals are high and holding, with a little bounce to work with the rhythm that skits across the rock bottom toe taps of Hard Times. While the music on the single is on the upside, the lyrics are more glass is half empty with talk of needing a hole in the ground to hunker down in and bunker out the hard times. It’s like a wry look back after you’ve ridden out the storm.
The video is pretty cool with an opening sequence that sees Williams stepping out in a strange, colourful and lightning streaked place, but still trying to hold on to her nerve. It’s got a similar storytelling genius to Nick Kershaw classics The Riddle and Wouldn’t It Be Good, but with dark glasses and a stuttering dance step. There’s also a fair amount of humour to it, with hints of Kate Bush meets Jarvis Cocker at a party at Paula Abdul’s place with special guest DJs Noel Fielding and Django Django.
Hard Times is a flint shard-encrusted kaleidoscope of a track and if it’s a good sign of what’s to come on After Laughter then Paramore is going to be hoovering up air time all year. The music video has already picked up more than three million views in a day, so it doesn’t really need positive words from any review, but it’s tough not to say good things about it, even for the darkest of hearts.
Paramore, Hard Times single review: 5/5