Petals For Armor
Hayley Williams’ Petals for Armor takes its name from an idea: “Being vulnerable,” she tells Apple Music, “is a shield. Because how else can you be a human that’s inevitably gonna fuck up, and trip in front of the world a million times?” On her first solo LP, the Paramore frontwoman submerges herself in feeling, following a period of intense personal struggle in the wake of 2017’s After Laughter. To listen start to finish is to take in the full arc of her journey, as she experienced it—from rage (“Simmer”) to loss (“Leave It Alone”) to shame (“Dead Horse”) to forgiveness (“Pure Love”) and calm (“Crystal Clear”).
The music is just as mercurial: Williams smartly places the focus on her voice, lacing it through moody tangles of guitar and electronics that recall both Radiohead and Björk—whom she channels on the feminist meditation “Roses / Lotus / Violet / Iris”—then setting it free on the 21st-century funk reverie “Watch Me While I Bloom.” On the appropriately manic “Over Yet,” she bridges the distance between Trent Reznor and Walt Disney with—by her own description—“verses like early Nine Inch Nails, and choruses like A Goofy Movie.” It’s a good distance from the pop-punk of Paramore (bandmate Taylor York produced and Paramore touring member Joey Howard co-wrote as well), but a brave reintroduction to an artist we already thought we knew so well. “It was like a five- or six-month process of beating it out of myself,” she says of the writing process. “It felt like hammering steel.”