Don’t yell at me! I just never really devoted a lot of time to this band. But I have always been aware of the bigtime fandom surrounding them—especially that of Hayley Williams. My inner scene kid preferred bandss like Anberlin, Underoath, and Flyleaf.
As I aged, I swung out of the scene phase into indie. And after that, into slick, dreamy pop. In some way, Petals For Armor feels like all of these worlds colliding. When I heard “Simmer” for the first time earlier this year, I was sitting on the porch at my parents’ vacation home in south Florida, soaking up the fresh, warm air with nary a fellow Millennial within shouting distance. In spite of my aging Boomer surroundings, this single had me thinking whoa. This is cool.
I have to be honest (again) and say the lofty expectations put forth by “Simmer,” so far, haven’t quite been lived up to in the balance of the album. I decided to forgo listening to the other Petals From Armor EP drops so I could soak in the album. As I expected there were plenty of slick moments echoing that which was set forth by “Simmer.” The feeling is never quite happy, though some moments feel brighter than others. Overall, there’s a tone of angst that’s bathed in a neat, tidy sheen of indie leaning vaguely dark pop. “Creepin” is an early highlight, with its singsong, almost lectured vocal hook. On the back end of the album, “Sugar On the Rim” stood out immediately, though it takes a bit of time to get going. This is the sort of song I can easily picture Hayley performing while leering at the audience in a dark club.
Overall, while listening I can’t shake the feeling that some of the fat could have been trimmed from the record. I want to like every single track, but there are only a few that I genuinely love. That being said, even the songs that don’t quite do it for me have elements that I appreciate. For example, in “Taken” the chorus just doesn’t really grab me, but the overall depth of the track is noteworthy—like staring at a dark backdrop on a painting, and then seeing all the blends happening just so to come up with that particular shade upon closer examination.
I’m optimistic that I’ll find more to love about this album in time. It’s clear to me at this point that Hayley has found a new voice that will hopefully be more than a one-and-done experiment. I hear that the next Paramore record will be a return to their “Scene” roots so between these sounds, Hayley could very well have the rest of her career mapped out to keep things fresh.