Looking into the future as an orange-haired pop-punk singer in the midst of the emo heyday, I wonder if Hayley Williams ever pictured herself experimenting with a solo project and a tame hairstyle. Williams has an impressive catalogue of albums and genres – she’s certainly expanded her musical talent and explored new styles over the years.
This dynamic little powerhouse has shaken up her sound yet again; even more so than Paramore’s 2017 album, ‘After Laughter’, which saw the band discover a more mellow sound. Paramore’s years have been turbulent, to say the least: with the departure of band members, feuds, band members returning, a strong change in their sound and waving goodbye to the emo days that grounded them and gave them their solid foundation in the 2000s… there have been uncertain times.
Then along came Petals for Armour… Williams’ first solo project. Her personal EP, showing the world what Hayley Williams sounds like, not Paramore.
There’s a sultry start, Simmer’s heavy breathing intro is unlike anything Williams has released before; it has a mysterious, sexy tone – a universe away from the high tempo screams in Paramore classics like ‘Misery Business’. ‘Simmer’ carries its own powerful weight while being subtle and steady. It would be easy to overlook the lyrics with this clever opening track but there is a clear message about rage, and a mother’s protection throughout. Williams shows her depth and explores her layers of musical knowledge she’s learned since 2004. She’s experimenting with her own sound and it’s exciting.
‘Cinnamon’s’ punchy intro adds a soulful, After Laughter, happy-go-lucky vibe to the EP. It’s summery and fresh and unlike anything, we’ve heard Williams do before. There are definitely elements of After Laughter’s tracks that shine through here; it has the same energy and sing-a-long in the shower, can’t-stop-dancing feel. There is a darker, dingier sound with ‘Sudden Desire’, the grittiest track on the EP, a slight taste of Williams’ emo years and a nod back to the past. It’s mysterious and slightly heart-breaking as the lyrics mirror the gloomy feel to this bitter love song.
Petals for Armour is a slow, emotional journey but you’re on the ride along with Williams; feeling her pain and sharing her joy. It’s so warming to watch how she has grown and developed her style through the years; there’s a feeling of pride watching her explore her sound and create new projects. Hopefully, Petals for Armour is just the start of Hayley Williams’ new adventure.