Hayley Williams

Hayley Williams Releases Para(more) Solo Music

Many artists in bands make the decision to embark on a solo career, and Hayley Williams is not ‘The Only Exception.’ Once again, she’s in the business of misery and taking it from the top—but this time, she’s doing it under a new brand.

On Jan. 22, Williams dropped her debut single called ‘Simmer.’ The gloomy instrumentals, eerie vocals, and emotional lyrics took a few listens to grow on me. I can’t help but drum along to the beat each listen, as they remind me of the drums in ‘Let the Flames Begin’ and ‘Part II’ right from Paramore’s discography. In fact, all of her songs are extremely drum and bass driven.

She has released four more songs since then—‘Cinnamon,’ ‘Leave it Alone,’ ‘Creepin,’ and ‘Sudden Desire.’ They all fall under the first half of her album called Petals for Armor Part I, with the rest of the album to be released on May 8. Each rage-filled song gnaws at her ex-husband, guitarist Chad Gilbert from the band New Found Glory. They also illustrate the very-real themes of guilt, grief, and vulnerability.

For the most part, I found Williams’ music to sound clumsily experimental, with her odd music videos following suit by resembling mini horror movies. Her music strays far from Paramore’s emo, alternative rock sound that pulled in their fans. Her new music can be described as “dark pop,” almost like Paramore meets Billie Eilish.

Hayley has promised fans in the past that she would never go solo, but she seems incredibly proud to slip out of the Paramore mold for a while and experiment with her own individual sound. And I give her props for that.

However, there will always be a little part of Paramore in anything Williams does or releases. They’re still a band, after all! Taylor York, the band’s lead guitarist, co-wrote and produced a large portion of Williams’ music.

Unfortunately, Taylor York and drummer Zac Farro will not be joining their bandmate on stage as she strides through her solo journey with an upcoming tour following Petal for Armor’s full release. This album comes three years after Paramore’s fifth album After Laughter was released in 2017.

Williams is undoubtedly the best vocalist of our generation. No one can match her vocals, but I’m afraid they have fell short on her album compared to the powerful high notes that bless Paramore’s ‘All I wanted,’ ‘Turn it Off,’ and ‘Still into You.’ She does belt in the chorus of ‘Sudden Desire,’ but it’s lacking the beautiful, breathtaking performance we know she is capable of. Williams’ vocals on Petals for Armor become tarnished by distasteful effects, harmonizing with deep computerized voices that sound like demons, and being accompanied by awkward, off-putting whispers.

Out of all five songs, I’d have to say that ‘Simmer’ takes the blue ribbon so far, with ‘Creepin’ at a close second with a melody that falls more on the groovy side. However, Williams’ solo songs are not ones that could give me the thrill of jamming out to on the guitar like Paramore’s songs can, being that they are my favorite band of all time.

Nevertheless, I retain an appreciation for the rawness of each song, and I will be looking forward to the full album when it drops in a few months. It is safe to say that Paramore fans are ‘Born for This.’