Let’s be honest, Paramore’s last album, After Laughter, was pretty dire. But after a hiatus, singer Hayley Williams has decided to go solo, releasing her impressive debut Petals For Armour in three separate, five-track instalments, and it’s her best material in more than a decade.
Part I is a near faultless listen. Sure, she leans heavily on the ingredients used by female-led alternative acts like Warpaint and Daughter, with sparse, minimal guitar parts dipping in and out of murky, interlocking bass and restrained drum patterns; but this style suits her well.
Opener Simmer offers a more theatrical vocal approach than her Paramore efforts, while textural cello slides add much to the Leave It Alone chorus lyrics: “It tastes so bitter on my tongue/The truth’s a killer/But I can’t leave it alone.”
Dead Horse lacks the cohesion of earlier tracks. The song, which is about staying in a relationship well past its sell-by date, starts off promisingly, with reverse piano and glitchy effects, and suitably spiteful tone to the lyrics. But the chorus features a twee xylophone motif, and irritating shouts of “Ya ya ya!”
Why We Ever and Roses/Lotus/Violet/Iris work best in the context of the album, recalling the sounds of the opening tracks.
Although a little long-winded, Petals For Armour builds a strong case for Hayley Williams to continue down this solo route.