Album Review: Hayley Williams – Petals For Armor

It’s the solo record that many people disputed would ever happen, but boy, are we so glad it finally did. On 8th May 2020 through Atlantic, we were finally treated to the collection of songs now known as Petals For Armor, by Paramore‘s frontwoman Hayley Williams.

The album was written throughout 2019, chronicling Williams experience of a hiatus from touring for her usual musical outfit Paramore. In this collection of songs, we discover her feelings on grief, divorce, desire and every raw edge of pain. However, despite this gutwrenching subject matter the album somehow still feels warm and comforting, like she understands feelings and voices them in a way you could never manage to yourself.

Lead single Simmer brims over with eclectic pop angst, declaring that “rage is a quiet thing,”; a perfect description of the emotive catharsis the album becomes. It becomes immediately apparent from the smooth yet inventive production that the work from Williams herself and Paramore bandmate Taylor York should be hugely commended. Leave It Alone sounds like it has come straight from a personal diary entry; discussing the fear of loss of loved ones in a beautifully candid manner.

The slower emotive tone picks up to snappier pop beats with Cinnamon, before you’re immediately dropped back down to edgier vibes on Creepin’. The juxtaposition of the two completely unique tracks being next to each other on the collection gives an inkling to the highs and lows of Williams’ personal experiences. New love is hinted at for the first time on Sudden Desire, which details an extremely honest description of letting yourself feel romance again (at least that’s the way I heard it, I don’t want to put words in her mouth).

We’re treated to an intro in the form of a voice memo in Dead Horse, which again offers an intrinsically detailed insight into the end of her marriage to New Found Glory’s Chad Gilbert, even going as far as to describe her experience of being “the other woman first”; the song is effortlessly relatable to anyone experiencing some form of break up and I have to commend her on this completely interesting take on the ending of a relationship.

Over Yet is dreamy pop at its absolute best, with syncopated drum rhythms keeping the beat going in the verses, before bursting into seamless vocal harmonies. Roses/Lotus/Violet/Iris is the standout track of the latter half of the record, shedding light on a wonderful image of femininity in the form of flowers; truly beautiful stuff. Why We Ever boasts gorgeous piano melodies, a perfect addition to the soft synth-y melodies throughout.

Extremely intricate bass line melodies come into play on Taken, and if you really read into the lyrics it would appear that Williams’ has possibly found love again, but that’s not ultimately the focus of the album itself (and her love life shouldn’t really be the interest of the public anyway, frankly). Sugar on the Rim is straight up a rave dance track, and it’s not really something I thought I would ever hear from Hayley as an artist, but I absolutely love it, and I love that Petals for Armor is an amalgamation of all of her completely differing musical inspirations.

Album closer Crystal Clear is a perfect end to the collection of fifteen tracks, and when I did some digging the song actually features her own grandfather’s vocals from a song he wrote himself known as Friends or Lovers; this really stuck with me and made me ponder on what a beautiful tribute this is to her family.

Petals for Armor is a complete release of emotion that leads to you really understanding the intimate depths of Williams’ psyche. Rarely does an album really delve into the aura of someone’s soul only to emerge with a beautifully written near-perfect recording. As much as we all hope Paramore come back eventually, I’m simultaneously yearning to hear more from Hayley Williams as a solo outfit.

Listen to ‘Petals for Armor’ here!

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