The release of the single “Simmer” in January of this year took Paramore fans by surprise—it was the first time that frontwoman Hayley Williams ventured off on her own. Now, with her debut project Petals for Armor I, listeners can fully enter the world of someone who has finally come to terms with her own emotions.
The five-track EP will be followed by a full-length album, Petals for Armor, set to be released on May 8. It was dropped on Feb. 6 alongside a video for the song “Cinnamon.” Music videos for “Simmer,” “Leave it Alone,” and “Leave it Alone Interlude” were released leading up to the EP’s release. Directed by Warren Fu, these videos tell a story of rebirth as Williams kills off her old self and grows into a cocoon, then emerges as a butterfly.
This first installment finds Williams boldly displaying the full extent of her creativity and artistry. She embraces her inner emotions, spilling her heart into raw and sincere lyrics. The music, dark and mysterious, melds well with her vulnerable lines. The songs on Petals for Armor I make you want to sit down and cry on your kitchen floor—and that’s okay.
Williams certainly likes to surround herself with family. Taylor York, former bassist of Paramore, plays a large role in the album—he’s credited as a lyricist and producer for most of the songs. Even Zack Farro, former drummer for Paramore, participated in the project as a creative consultant for many of the music videos.
Each track tackles a feeling. The first song, “Simmer,” focuses on rage—how to control it, but more importantly, how to come to terms with its existence. Other songs touch on themes such as grief and lust. Taking notes from the likes of Björk, Tori Amos, and even Billie Eillish, the EP unrolls a grunge-esque sound that forms a clear divide from the bubblegum ’80s synth pop of Paramore’s latest album, 2017’s After Laughter. While the latter encouraged listeners to cry and dance in equal measures, Petals for Armor I challenges us to confront our deepest, darkest feelings, knowing that in the end we can still hope for rebirth and growth.
Moreover, the unconventional two-part structure of the album challenges the convention of dropping all of the tracks at once. The fresh approach not only keeps the hype alive, but also embodies the themes at work in Petals for Armor: letting things sink in, taking life one step at a time. Since the band went on hiatus in 2018, Williams has been able to showcase her own work independently. The world has learned that we actually need more frontwomen in the music scene. A female musician becoming the center of attention is something to be celebrated, not taken for granted, which is the reason why now is the best time to release a project like Petals for Armor I. Paramore is still a band, but now it is a band that grows, letting its members pursue their own endeavors.
Featured Image by Fueled by Ramen