Hayley Williams
Petals For Armor I


3.5
great

Review

by SowingSeason STAFF
February 9th, 2020 | 81 replies


Release Date: 02/06/2020 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Paramore's frontwoman thrives the more she removes herself from convention, and it feels like the start of something special.

The solo career of Hayley Williams has always been a foregone conclusion. She’s still the highlight of Paramore, the pop/punk/rock outfit through which she rose to stardom, and rightfully so. Her powerful voice is what separates the band from hundreds of other similar acts, and she’s also arguably the reason for Paramore’s success and longevity. How she would make a career out of going solo was always the curious thing; would she go full-blown pop star? Her 2010 collaboration with hip-hop artist B.o.B. alluded to the possibility, although Williams possesses something of a defiant edge that doesn't suggest she'd submit to the mainstream pop industry. Hayley loves to do things her way; at times it was the bane of the Farro brothers’ existence, but it may prove to be a boon in the long run. After all, Petals for Armor I is anything but ordinary, and it places her on the precipice of something truly special.

Williams’ debut EP doesn’t feel like the work of a former pop-punker, and that’s a good thing. Hayley faces change head-on, which shouldn’t come as a surprise considering just how in-stride Paramore was able to evolve with 2017’s After Laughter, an 80s-pop inclined piece that was a stark departure from their previous catalog. On Petals for Armor I, Hayley finds herself very mood-driven, blending alt-rock atmospheres that wouldn’t sound out-of-place on a Radiohead album with funky, offbeat grooves. ‘Simmer’ opens the experience with palpable tension; it feels like being quietly stalked as Hayley’s vocals slink along with sinister undertones. Echoed whispers of “simmer” rattle throughout the track’s bridge, and it only adds to the sense of mystery. Given the repetitive nature of the refrain and the limited scope of Hayley’s vocal usage, it’s surprisingly addictive. ‘Leave It Alone’ is accented by distantly clamoring guitars and eerie synth swells that manage to twist “contemplative” into “ominous”, whereas ‘Cinnamon’ is a bit more upbeat – but not quite to the point of After Laughter. Hayley takes an interesting vocal approach throughout much of the EP; she often sings in a lower register, rarely opts for anything that could be deemed sugary, and doesn’t aspire to showcase her range at every possible turn. ‘Cinnamon’, despite its rhythmic upbeat groove, still manages to feel secretive and evasive – a direct result of Williams’ vocal style. ‘Creepin’ is another fun yet enigmatic effort, which features an infectious stomp-beat and electronically altered vocals during the chorus that make it seem like Hayley is up to no good. Petals for Armor I doesn’t much break free from this veil of shadowy, stealthy pop until ‘Sudden Desire’, the EP’s closing track centered around lust. It’s the first song on the album where Williams lets her high pitch erupt, and it’s all the more satisfying in the wake of the preceding four songs which act like a low-laying fog.

Petals for Armor I is a highly promising debut for Hayley Williams. She expands her sonic palette well beyond anything she’s accomplished as the Paramore frontwoman, which will hopefully lift up her solo career and the band rather than simply spelling doom for the latter. If one thing is clear, it’s that Williams seems to thrive the more she removes herself from convention; it became apparent with After Laughter, and now it’s obvious with Petals for Armor I. As she continues to challenge herself professionally, we may find that the best is yet to come for a seasoned artist who is just beginning to realize her full potential.



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user ratings (77)
3.4
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
SowingSeason
Moderator
February 9th 2020


33388 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This is the second Hayley fronting a very popular band to release her solo debut EP, and it's only January! Hayley Mary's (Jezabels) EP was more straightforward fun, this is more of a cool, moody, slightly experimental piece. It's a great EP.

Digging: Greg Dulli - Random Desire

PostMesmeric
February 10th 2020


772 Comments


I really enjoyed this EP, definitely more than I was expecting to. Looking forward to more solo material from her.

botulist
February 10th 2020


239 Comments


this is truly a very unconventional album.

Digging: Noh Mercy - Noh Mercy

trackbytrackreviews
February 10th 2020


3419 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

wait people liked this? she should just stick to paramore

JohnnyoftheWell
Contributing Reviewer
February 10th 2020


21507 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

Huge missed opportunity to name this Petals For Armor I - Paramornal Activity. If you're gonna put out an EP fated to have its existence completely obviated by your upcoming album, you might as well take a few liberties

Digging: Jida - Lucid

Nocte
Contributing Reviewer
February 10th 2020


11521 Comments


might have to peep at this sometime

JohnnyoftheWell
Contributing Reviewer
February 10th 2020


21507 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

Cinnamon bangs, you should defo hear that one at least

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
February 10th 2020


43263 Comments

Album Rating: 4.1

"wait people liked this? she should just stick to paramore"



Cinnamon booms like the majority of Paramore songs lol

Digging: Denzel Curry and Kenny Beats - Unlocked

JohnnyoftheWell
Contributing Reviewer
February 10th 2020


21507 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

ok boome/

(yes it does)

neekafat
Contributing Reviewer
February 10th 2020


17645 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

why you

creepin

Nocte
Contributing Reviewer
February 10th 2020


11521 Comments


neeky breeky on the February high rate.

Dewinged
Contributing Reviewer
February 10th 2020


18060 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Fun little EP. Really loving Shimmer.

Digging: The Haxan Cloak - The Haxan Cloak

dmathias52
February 10th 2020


1128 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I'm excited to see what this turns into, but slightly disappointed I think. I loved Shimmer and the rest is interesting, but I think it shows that she's new to this kind of experimentation. All starts to blend together. Think there's a lot of potential though!

Digging: Moses Sumney - Grae

SowingSeason
Moderator
February 10th 2020


33388 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I was pleasantly surprised by this and it exceeded my expectations by a decent margin. I agree that she's new to this kind of experimentation (a few moments from After Laughter notwithstanding), and that she has potential to kick it up a notch. If the LP is more of the same (or worse, this showcases the very best of it), then the full-length will just be a 3.5 or lower. Moreso than the LP though, I'm kind of interested in her long-term trajectory - like whether she'll continue to chase new sounds or if this will be a one-off effort and then she'll succumb to the path of least resistance (either going full mainstream pop or returning to alt-rock/pop-punk). I'm hoping for the former, obviously, as I think her talent exceeds either of the other options (a solo clone of Paramore's sound or radio pop).

proscett
February 10th 2020


37 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

simmer is the clear standout here. the other songs definitely aren't bad but they're not very memorable imo

SowingSeason
Moderator
February 10th 2020


33388 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Simmer is only middle of the pack, I prefer Creepin' and Cinnamon.

coldheaven
February 10th 2020


4875 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Sudden Desire>Creepin'>Simmer>Leave It Alone>Cinnamon



Such a hard EP to rank when the whole thing FUCKIN' SLAPS

Digging: Thursday - No Devolucion

SowingSeason
Moderator
February 10th 2020


33388 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Hell yeah coldheaven; my ranking would be Creepin' > Cinnamon > Sudden Desire > Simmer > Leave It Alone, although every track is good.

JohnnyoftheWell
Contributing Reviewer
February 10th 2020


21507 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

Broadly agree with that ranking - means this is gonna need a few more spins to see if that agreement gets a complementary bump ;]

AmericanFlagAsh
February 10th 2020


9477 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Can't believe she is outdoing anything by Paramore by herself



Oh wait yes I can

Digging: Arca - @@@@@



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