Hayley Williams: Petals For Armor (Atlantic) Review | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Tuesday, September 22nd, 2020  

Hayley Williams

Petals For Armor


May 08, 2020 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

Hayley Williams is no stranger to attention and the stresses that come with celebrity, rising to fame at a very young age while fronting zippy pop-rock band Paramore. So stepping out on her own with a debut solo album seems less of a chance and more of a challenge Williams is eagerly willing to take.     

Petals For Armor sees Williams sidestepping her emo-pop princess status to explore more intricate, intimate, and somewhat experimental grooves. The results of which are often daring and captivating but just as often conventional and uninteresting, making for an uneven album that is mostly appealing if not inconsistent.    

Perhaps from trying too many schemes while struggling to find a niche, the album’s 15 tracks are a study in contrasting moods. Many assorted styles are investigated, seemingly to discover what sounds best or see what sticks. Most are crafted with creativity and all are designed to show off Williams’ powerful pipes. Flexing her chameleonic versatility while skillfully plying her craft, she is equally comfortable cooing as an R&B seductress as she is tripping out in a tantalizing voice that is powerful, atmospheric, and lush.    

At its most entertaining the music on Petals For Armor draws comparisons to the razor sharp, artificial pop of St. Vincent and the sophisticated, chamber-pop vibe of My Brightest Diamond. Tracks such as opener “Simmer,” “Cinnamon,” “Sudden Desire,” “Sugar on the Rim,” and the slinky first single “Creepin’” feature experimental electronics, booming bass, and snappy rhythms all dynamically packaged with animated arrangements that feature Williams’ layered and radiant warble.    

But on the flip side, a handful of tracks such as “Dead Horse,” “Over Yet,” “Pure Love,” “Taken,” and “Watch Me While I Bloom” flounder with a blending of R&B and commercial pop sounding closer to Beyoncé and Janelle Monáe. While Williams can certainly stand toe to toe with these artists it’s a complete 180 from other tracks and leaves the listener wondering what just happened.    

Overall Petals For Armor proves that Hayley Williams, with her singing as sharp as ever, is no one trick pony and is willing to push the envelope outside of her comfort zone for a sophisticated and sensual debut album that should play well to the masses. (www.paramore.net)

Author rating: 6.5/10

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Average reader rating: 8/10


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