If you didn't know already, Paramore's Hayley Williams announced late last year that she'd be pursuing a solo side project in 2020. This project, "Petals For Armor," started its own Instagram page dedicated to closeups of various flower petals back in October of last year, which no one really knew about until the announcement in January.
Amongst all of these teasers into the new year, Williams finally dropped her first single for the album titled "Simmer" at the end of January. This song perfectly set the tone for what solo-Hayley will sound like in comparison to her pop rock band. The track begins with what sounds like the start of her beat-boxing abruptly turning into a deep inhale & sigh with a chilling humming beat to follow. Her lyrics tackle harnessing rage & lessons from the past as she musically takes the listener on a rollercoaster ride of emotions: should we dance or cry or scream? We'll all do one at some point to "Simmer," so it's fine.
"Leave It Alone" is the second track off of the Petals For Armor I EP and was also released separately as a single last week. This somber ballad has a beautifully unsettling music video with creative direction by Lindsey Byrnes (one of my favorite photographers.) There is a consistent theme of confusing yet aesthetically pleasing content throughout Williams' collection of music videos. Williams is no stranger to expressing difficult emotions throughout her music and this track sonically emphasizes her inner struggles in a beautiful way.
To pick us back up is "Cinnamon" coming in at number 3. Revisiting the evocative vocal layerings, Williams describes her life at home alone with her dog, Alf. Although, it may come across as boredom or discontentment with her current situation, she admits to actually enjoying her peace in the bridge: "I'm not lonely baby, I am free." This can also be depicted in the music video (above) where she submits to her home's comfort & ultimately gives her a sense of freedom. It should also be mentioned that it's the first we've seen Williams do a full choreographed dance, despite her constant groovy freestyles on stage.
"Creepin'" is the fourth track on the EP, which somehow (after hearing the first 3 songs) sounds exactly how you'd expect it. What I mean by that is, there is an overarching feeling of "creepiness" throughout the song; whether it be the looming bassline or the distorted vocals reciting "why you creepin' 'roud here?" It almost makes me feel guilty of creeping. I also can't help but notice a few "vampire" references in the lyrics... more songs for Twilight, perhaps?
The final song on PFA is "Sudden Desire," where you initially believe it's going to be a sultry slow tune with another slick bassline. Psych! The chorus kicks in & grabs you by the neck; how I imagine Williams felt while creating this piece. As the haunting melody commences, it no longer makes you feel like you're listening to a romantic song. The song's theme seems to be controlling your inner urges while having the struggles of revisiting trauma. Needless to say, this track is one powerful way to end an EP.
We are extremely excited to see what Hayley Williams brings to this year. Full length, Petals For Armor, will be released on May 8th, 2020. There's also been mention of a solo tour some time this year. In the meantime, you can stream Petals For Armor I here.
Written By: Deirdre Kelly