Paramore fans have anxiously awaited the release of lead vocalist Hayley Williams’ solo album, Petals for Armour, since she announced it in December 2019. Last month, Williams released the song “Simmer” and its music video as the first installment of the project. A second song entitled, “Leave it Alone,” was released last week.
Before anyone asks, no – this project does not sound the same as the punk rock most Paramore fans fell in love with back when we were all desperately trying to go to the Vans Warped Tour. This project isn’t even remotely similar to their most recent album, After Laughter, and it shouldn’t be. Petals for Armour is an outlet for Williams to express her deeply personal emotions, and regardless of any review, Paramore fans need to recognize the importance of her solo project.
A solo project by Williams isn’t a new idea: her career would have started as a solo venture if Atlantic Records had their way. Williams instead pushed to be the frontrunner of a punk-rock band, and thus Paramore was born. Fast forward about 15 years and Williams’ solo career finally begins with Petals for Amour. While the talented singer has been a featured artist on numerous songs throughout her career (most notably “Airplanes” by B.o.B. and “Stay the Night” by Zed), this is the first time she has full creative control.
Petals for Armour is an outlet for Williams to express her deeply personal emotions.
To be honest, there hasn’t been a better time for Williams to take this next step in her career. While there was a possibility that Williams might go solo after the Farro brothers left Paramore in December 2010, her solo career would have been overshadowed by a band breakup. More than that, Williams still had plans for Paramore, and she wanted to prove the band could survive even after two of its founding members left.
Paramore needed to stay alive because it gave Williams credibility to voice her frustrations with members leaving the band. If such songs like “Future” or “Tell Me How” came from Williams as a solo artist and not as Paramore, they would have been regarded not only as bitter, but hypocritical as well.
Now, after the success of After Laughter and the start of a new decade, Williams has the perfect opportunity to debut her first solo album. The project will be intense — in the last few years Williams has experienced a divorce, a depression diagnosis, and grief from her grandmother’s recent fall down a set of stairs. As we can already hear with “Simmer” and “Leave it Alone,” Williams is channeling all of those emotions into Petals for Armour.
“Simmer” allows Williams to channel her rage through an intense musical number and video, where she runs in a forest until catching up to a former version of herself in an abandoned house. While Hayley has yet to comment on the inspiration for the songs, fans can’t help but speculate her rage comes from divorcing her ex-husband, Chad Gilbert, who she began dating when she was 17.
Williams has never been this personal before, and that’s because she wasn’t ready to be.
“Leave it Alone” explores Williams’ grief and fear of losing loved ones. She questions the validity of loving people, as it only contributes to the grief she’ll feel once someone is gone. In an interview with Beats 1’s Zane Lowe, Williams remarks, “The more you love, the more you lose.”
Williams has never been this personal before, and that’s because she wasn’t ready to be. Processing trauma, abuse, and grief takes an immeasurable amount of time, and the fact that Williams is so open about her experiences now reveals how far she has come in accepting her mental health. This is all the more reason to support this project.
I know there are many disappointed Paramore fans, bitter that the band’s punk-rock sound has been dead since Brand New Eyes, but it’s time that fans stop pinning their desires onto artists who have clearly moved on. We can’t keep tying Williams to “Misery Business” when she has stated numerous times that she is not the same person she was when she wrote it. Petals for Armour isn’t a project by the lead singer of Paramore; it is the solo debut of Hayley Williams, and I cannot wait to hear it in full.