Donât let the flowery imagery confuse you. With Petals for Armor, Hayley Williams has created a freshly-plucked bouquet of songs that dazzle the senses as they probe the mind. A story of heartbreak, persistence, and release, the 15-track LP walks the listener down a path to rediscovering love.
At 31, Williams has spent half of her life as a performer and songwriter. Growing up in the pop-punk spotlight with her band Paramore, she was thrust into the part of a role model for a generation of her peers. However, with depression haunting her at every turn, Williams never saw herself as a superhero.
The singer, with the support of her bandmates Taylor York and Zac Farro, created 2017âs After Laughter as a starting point on a journey towards self-healing. After returning from tour (and a divorce), Williams used Paramoreâs next hiatus to further her journey via a solo album.
Petals for Armor tells its story in three parts, grouping the 15 tracks into 5-song segments. The first movement finds the singer at the moments of her deepest grief. Album opener âSimmerâ shows Williams at her angriest, gasping for control over her rage. In âLeave it Alone,â she openly mourns the loss of loved ones. Towards the end of the first set, the singer sees moments of escape (âCinnamonâ), but she also canât shake the darker impulses in her mind (âCreepinâ,â âSudden Desireâ).
The second act finds Williams later on, at a point where distance has given her wisdom. âDead Horseâ opens this segment, as she finally saw her past relationship for the exhausting mess it left her in. (A voice message sets the tone, as Williams apologizes for her depression causing a three-day work lag. Her dog, Alf, also makes a brief barking cameo.) Sarcasm drips over the track: âDyed my hair blue to match my lips [â¦] Pretty cool I’m still alive.â
Further reflection pops up in âMy Friend,â as it chronicles the solace Williams finds in her strongest friendship. âOver Yetâ boasts a hefty motivational chant (âIf there’s resistance/If there’s resistance/It makes you stronger/It’s not the endâ) over poppy synths. âRoses/Lotus/Violet/Irisâ and âWhy We Everâ both deal with the adoption of that mindset, with the latter containing the singerâs apology to her past lover.
Act Three shares an optimistic Williams, as she sheds her old ways. She opens up in âPure Love,â and furthers her hopes for a better love in the future in âTakenâ and âSugar on the Rim.â âWatch Me While I Bloomâ invites the listener to see the singerâs newly-exposed truths, and âCrystal Clearâ drifts away from her murky past.
If After Laughter marked the running steps Williams would take to a new sonic garden, then Petals for Armor is her long jump into it. Primarily, she delves deep into the ways of the synth, playing the keys on the majority of the LP. Brooding, dark washes of atmospheric sound cover portions of âCreepinââ and âSudden Desire.â The smashes of bright, âOwner of a Lonely Heartâ-esque synth fills that appear in âMy Friendâ would make Yes proud.
Acoustic guitars, strings, and piano melodies found in âWhy We Everâ and âCrystal Clearâ offer gentle moments. Disco beats in âPure Loveâ and club-worthy bass booms in âSugar on the Rimâ show positivity at its most intense! The instrumentation in âWatch Me While I Bloomâ strikes a balance between gentle and intense; it bursts with jazzy horns, Ã -la Stingâs âWeâll Be Together.â
Williams mostly stays in the lower half of her vocal register â a big departure from her signature soaring belts. Her power belts come into play in the happier tracks, where positive tones warrant celebrations. Otherwise, the listener hears the breathy, vulnerable side of the singer, highlighting the albumâs raw themes.
Petals for Armor is the first entry in Williamsâ solo work, but itâs the most satisfying chapter overall. Finding strength in accepting perceived vulnerabilities, the singer shares her dirty roots and her blossoming outlook on life and love. Why not bloom alongside her?
- Leave it Alone
- Sudden Desire
- Dead Horse
- My Friend
- Over Yet
- Why We Ever
- Pure Love
- Sugar on the Rim
- Watch Me While I Bloom
- Crystal Clear
Post by Elizabeth Owens
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The post Album Review: Hayley Williams – ‘Petals for Armor’ appeared first on Concert Crap.