~ Part I ~
• Simmer • Leave It Alone • Cinnamon • Creepin’ • Sudden Desire •
~ Part II ~
• Dead Horse • My Friend • Over Yet • Roses/Lotus/Violet/Iris • Why We Ever •
~ Part III ~
• Pure Love • Taken • Sugar on the Rim • Watch Me While I Bloom • Crystal Clear •
I’ve fallen head over heels in love this weekend; with fifty five minutes of music. ‘Petals For Armor’ is the first solo album from Paramore’s front woman, Hayley Williams, so thought I’d share some thoughts with you…
In January, Williams released her first solo single, ‘Simmer.’ It climbed its way to the top of my ‘on repeat’ playlist on Spotify and has made a comfortable home for itself there, ever since. At that point, there was only a mere hint of an EP – or an album – but no-one knew for sure. Shortly after, Petals For Armor EP one was released; closely followed by a second, and Hayley confirmed that the third EP would tie them all together into an album, something I’ve never come across before. It came under some scrutiny from voices online but personally I loved this idea. Paramore albums in the past had been leaked through the impatience of fans for new music, so this drip feed method – in my opinion – seemed to be Hayley (or, more likely, the label’s) way of saying – “we know it’s tough to wait for more, so we’re going to make it easier for you.” It also gives the listener the chance to take in each part, piece by piece. The melodies may be upbeat for the most part but the lyrics are darker and deep. The gradual release was almost like Williams was deliberately allowing listeners to dip their toes into the unknown before throwing themselves in headfirst.
“Rage is a quiet thing, you think that you tamed it, but it’s just lying in wait…” Williams opens the album in a theme that continues throughout, with added complexity as you make your way through each part. I could probably find myself writing an essay on each track, but I’ll not keep you away from your isolation activities for hours, so I’ll pick a favourite from each part.
PART I – Cinnamon
This has become one of “those” songs for me. I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing when I first heard, and fell in love, with it. The acompanying video comes across, at first, as creepy (or maybe that’s just because I’m a wimp), but the pair go together hand in hand. The track screams femininity and freedom, confirmed in the bridge with the lyrics, “I’m not lonely babe, I am free.”
PART II – Over Yet
I fully believe that this song was written to be released at exactly the point in time that it was. With the world in a confusing state of disarray and lockdown, this is the 80s-esque synth anthem that we desperately need, paired with the optimistic lyrics “it’s the right time to come alive, baby, if you wanna try to get out of your head, yes, baby tell yourself it ain’t over yet.” It’s a far cry from the dark beginning of the album but a very welcome reminder that “if there’s resistance, it makes you stronger.”
PART III – Watch Me While I Bloom
The title does the talking before you even hit play on this track, but if you need any more confirmation, get yourself to the chorus; “You wanna look inside of me? and just watch me bloom, you only got one side of me, here’s something new. I’m alive in spite of me, and I’m on the move. So come and look inside of me, watch me while I bloom.” A track about Hayley overcoming dark times in her life, and, I may be wrong, but I read this as her response to people seeing her as ‘Paramore.’ In an interview with Pitchfork Hayley cites this track as ‘having to get up while you’re still covered in mud and figure something out for yourself’ and I LOVE this.
Petals For Armor is an album that is an advocate for finding strength in vulnerability. Though the subject matter comes, mostly, from a dark place, the album has a warm sense of belonging and understanding. Part II starts with a clip from an honest voice note, “Alright it took me three days to send you this.. uh, sorry, I was in a depression, I’m trying to come out of it now…”
Williams’ has used her incredible ability, once again, to turn darkness into light and vulnerability into something that is admirable, in the shape of Petals For Armor – an album that, I honestly believe, in years to come, will be one of the “must listens” for future generations, as well as our own.