ALBUM REVIEW: hayley williams, "petals for armor"
In the bosom of a pandemic, Hayley Williams birthed a memorable, one-of-a-kind femininity-laced record Petals for Armor. Williams, now thirty-one, emplaned with Paramore as the frontwoman in the heart of her angst,y teenage years, comforting, invigorating, and stealing emotions from geographically, everywhere. Written in 2019 during a Paramore break, this record is one of the year’s substantial saving graces. Her solo debut doubles as Williams’ emotional rehabilitation and emotional outlet of her past featuring contributions from bandmates Taylor York, who produced the album, and Zac Farro, who directed the video for “Dead Horse.”
Inaugural track “Simmer” sets the tone of the record with penetrated breathy sighs and pulse-vitalized synth as “rage is a quiet thing” is the first lyric drizzled from the songstress's pretty pink lips. She stares down rage and rhetorically questions, “oh, how to draw the line between wrath and mercy?” “Leave It Alone” trails off the animosity-drenched “Simmer” and abandons the synth at the end of the introduction’s ending note. It confronts the intricacy of mental health, losing a loved one - specifically her grandmother’s close call after an injury - and the loosely-coined paradox of mortality when you finally get the will to live life to the fullest. She sings, “Don’t nobody tell me that God don’t have a sense of humor // ‘Cause now that I want to live, well everybody around me is dying.”
The assemblage encounters more demise as “Dead Horse” takes a spin on the record player unveiling the singer + songwriter’s marriage and divorce revealing a decade of excruciating ache. The sad-stained lyrics opposingly light the stable pop melody and the same goes for the femme fatale “Cinnamon.”
“Why We Ever” and “Roses/Lotus/Violets/Iris” lie on the softer side of the bed ticketing Williams’ soothing vocals as they pacify the fragility of the lyric matter. Noted in a recent live stream, the ladder was heavily inspired by Radiohead as well as the introduction piece “Simmer.” Lust-filled “Sugar On The Rim” is an equal-rights movement. She powerfully sings:
Never felt this sensation // Kiss to every scar
Eclipse my expectation // Shock to my heart // Never felt this sensation (Sensation)
Kiss to every scar (Scar) // Eclipse my expectation // Shock to my heart.
“Watch Me While I Bloom” is a sure-fire self-care “forget about your mental health” anthem and foolproof for your morning self-reassuring workouts. “Crystal Clear'' concludes the impeccably-crafted record with a personal note shared on Instagram: “long story, long - my Grandat is a crooner. I grew up hearing him play his love songs, written for my Granny, who he’s been with since he was 12 years old. My favorite was one he never recorded called “Friends or Lovers''. it is one of the most meaningful songs in my whole life. One day, I walked into the studio where Taylor was working on a love song of my own (“Crystal Clear”), he pressed play and I heard my Grandat’s voice, singing his song over mine. I have yet to get over the sweetness of that full circle moment in my life. it is a moment that will forever stay with me and will live on through whoever listens. Here is the moment I surprised Grandat with a first listen, and then also a clip I secretly took of him playing his song at my house one evening.
thank you Grandat and thank you T.”
Petals for Armor is now available everywhere you buy or stream music. You can follow Hayley Williams on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook to keep up with her in this post-apocalyptic world. Something cool she did recently was a Zoom call in conversation with Phoebe Bridgers for Crack Magazine, where the two of them discussed the first time Phoebe saw Paramore (and why that caused her to ghost her boyfriend at the time) and much, much more.