A solo Hayley Williams project is a concept that has been talked about for a long time now. It was something that a lot of people thought would happen following Paramore’s heavy sonical exploration over the years, and I was rather excited to see where she would take this next step.
Her debut album ‘Petals For Armor’ is a experimental collection of tracks that hears her finding her own identity as a solo artist. It’s not what you expect at all, and that’s why it’s so brilliant.
Split into three distinctive sections, she delivers equally DIY, experimental and diverse moments of reflection with heavy indie-pop layering that is dark, moody and cinematically inclined.
Opening with lead single ‘Simmer’ she offers a dark and moody alt-pop palette that highlights the artistic side of minimalism. Beginning with a Imogen Heap influenced delivery she loops over vocal riffs, a percussion beat and brooding synths. Building up to the chorus, she adds a captivating guitar riff that still plays within the minimalism realm and reflects on her personal battle with bottling her emotions up.
Continuing the minimalist exploration ‘Leave It Alone’, ‘Creepin’ and ‘Sudden Desire’ round out the first section of the album with these brooding little moments that grow on you with each listen. However ‘Cinnamon’ is the clear standout from this section with it’s sample lead and DIY injected palette that is a little chaotic and completely mesmerising.
Recent single ‘Dead Horse’ kicks off the second section of the album with a production that feels like a slightly more pop version of something you could’ve expected from Paramore’s last album ‘After Laughter’. There is a bit more of a synth exploration on ‘My Friend’ while ‘Roses/Lotus/Violet/Iris’ and ‘Why We Ever’ goes back to the minimalist jazz band aesthetic.
‘Over Yet’ is probably one of my favourite tracks from this whole album. It’s full of pure disco nostalgia and is something I just want to dance to under a strobe light.
Kicking off the final section of the album is ‘Pure Love’ which brings back that groovy synth and 80’s nostalgia and interpolates a bit of a reference to ‘Cinnamon’ that gives the album a cool cohesive connection.
‘Sugar On The Rim’ sounds like a song taken from Madonna’s ‘Confessions On A Dancefloor’ album with it’s chaotic dark dance fusion before wrapping the album up with the doo-woop ‘Crystal Clear’ and the stripped back ‘Taken’ which has some of the most playful lyrics on the album.
From start to finish the fifteen track record takes you on a journey of self-discovery and self-reflection. It’s an album designed to listen to from start to finish and takes the listener on a vivid journey that explores your creative senses.
It’s not a mainstream commercial record, and it’s not meant to be. It was made for herself and for avid music fans that love experimentation and the art of self-exploration.