thu 04/06/2020

Album: Hayley Williams - Petals for Armor | reviews, news & interviews

Album: Hayley Williams - Petals for Armor

Album: Hayley Williams - Petals for Armor

Debut album from Paramore frontwoman is a funkin' great surprise

Not so square

The music of monstrously successful emo-pop sorts Paramore is globally massive but is far from everyone’s cup of angst-lite. There is something polished and squeaky clean about them, Teflon fluoro-goth with an off-putting whiff of decent boy/girl-next-door niceness. This writer, then, comes to the debut album of lead singer Hayley Williams with Everest-sized prejudices.

The music of monstrously successful emo-pop sorts Paramore is globally massive but is far from everyone’s cup of angst-lite. There is something polished and squeaky clean about them, Teflon fluoro-goth with an off-putting whiff of decent boy/girl-next-door niceness. This writer, then, comes to the debut album of lead singer Hayley Williams with Everest-sized prejudices. Unbelievably, these must be cast aside, for Petals For Armor, despite its stinky title (had to get one dig in!), is a vibrantly funky, imaginative and more-ish album.

From the writing credits, Williams appears to have put it together with Paramore guitarist Taylor York and touring bassist Joey Howard, although it sounds nothing like their usual sound whatsoever. Reference points instead, run the gamut from Christine and the Queens to Red Hot Chili Peppers. This is an album which, even at its weakest on the Eighties-style pop of “Taken”, boasts a serious jazz-funk bustle.

Opener “Simmer” bodes well. “Rage is a quiet thing – you think that it’s ended but it’s just lying in wait,” sings Williams, and we have our first taste of Howard’s bubbling bass tones, prior to a smashing electro-pop chorus. Indeed Howard’s sinuous low-end playing, possibly sometimes fretless (?), grounds the album in a sound that fluidly intersperses jazz, funk and even folk (very loosely redolent even of Joni Mitchells’ jazz adventures, in places).

From the eccentric shouty ambo-pop of “Creepin’” to the sweet, meditative shuffle of “Roses/Lotis/Violet/Iris”; from the percussive, sparse alt-blues of “Watch Me While I Bloom”, which shows off Williams’ voice in a raw, impressive light, to the folky slowie “Leave It Alone”; from the squelchy abstract “Cinnamon” to the catchy tropical marimba-pop of “Dead Horse, this is an album full of glorious surprises. The listener's feelings towards Paramore are irrelevant here, there’s simply a huge amount to enjoy, contagious songs lathered in an unexpected inventiveness.

Below: Watch the video for "Simmer" by Hayley Williams

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