If you listen, you’ll hear it.
On “Petals for Armor,” songs like “Over Yet” and “Pure Love” evoke the ’80s synth-fueled shades of Paramore’s 2017 album “After Laughter.” Other songs, like “Simmer” and “Leave It Alone,” harken back to Paramore’s days as an emo alt-rock force of nature with their dark ambiance and melodies.
This isn’t Paramore, though. This is Hayley Williams, and the band’s long-time frontwoman does plenty to discern her own music and spirit from the band on her debut solo record.
Paramore members Taylor York and Zac Farro may still be on the record, but with its personal lyricism and wide array of influences, the record is definitively Williams’ own statement. Williams’ proclamation on “Watch Me While I Bloom” that “You’ve seen one side of me/now here’s something new” may be at the very end of the record, but the listener should be well aware of that if they’ve been listening up to that point. The range of songs like “Simmer” and a personal note from Williams before the start of “Dead Horse” showcase the piece of her soul she put into the music on this record, and it makes for a more than satisfying complete listening experience.
Williams may be singing about herself, but she’s far from alone on the record. Indie supergroup boygenius (Phoebe Bridgers, Lucy Dacus, Julien Baker) sing ominous backing vocals on “Roses/Lotus/Violet/Iris,” and Michael Weiss, guitarist of noted Williams influence mewithoutYou, lends his chops to the song “Creepin,” The array of influences and favorites she collaborates with brings even more of a personal touch to “Petals For Armor,” as if Williams is declaring that the record is a product of herself and everyone that makes her that way.
Many records with a length of 15 songs can suffer from a top-heavy quality, but that doesn’t happen on “Petals For Armor.” The album was actually released in installments of three different EPs, and as a result, there is very little filler when they are combined to create the record. This style of release also lends the added benefit of an album that changes and weaves between styles, from the dark-pop flair of the first half of the record to the happy-go-lucky ’80s romp of the middle section and back again.
Overall, “Petals for Armor” is a triumph for both Williams and fans of pop that are looking for a delightfully varied and personal project. There’s no telling what will be next for Williams—be it another solo record or a return to the Paramore name—but if this record is anything to go by, it’ll surely be something to look out for.
“Watch Me While I Bloom”
“Leave It Alone”
“Why We Ever”