It’s been an eventful few weeks for local artist Hayley Williams, who, while taking a momentary breather from fronting beloved and long-running alt rock outfit Paramore, has been rolling her first proper solo release. After teasing the title Petals for Armor, eventually revealed to be an LP due out May 8 via Atlantic, Williams made a stunning debut with her first single and video, “Simmer,” two weeks ago. A complimentary but stylistic departure from her work with Paramore (though still brought to life with collaboration from many of the same friends, bandmates, and creative personnel), it was revealed soon after that the “Simmer” video was part of a narrative series, weaved together by interludes, with a followup, “Leave It Alone,” dropping last week. Raw and reflective, as personal and confessional as Williams has ever been, the songs, distinct from one another but both channeling the avant-garde arrangements and ambition of a late-career Radiohead, had us early anticipating the rest of the album, and another interlude, indicating yet another video, helped segue into the singer’s busiest week yet.
A few days ago, and newsworthy in its own right, Hayley stopped by BBC Radio 1’s Live Lounge, where she’s previously appeared in the past with Paramore, to deliver a live performance of “Simmer” for the first time, as well as tackling an inspired cover of Dua Lipa’s “Don’t Start Now.” Not long after, a third video in Williams’ Lemonade-esque ongoing series, “Cinnamon,” arrived, continuing the sort of sci-fi metamorphosis narrative, with an absolutely delightful and surreal dance sequence, perfectly suited to the tune’s more funky and upbeat style (which, notably, was co-written by Paramore bandmate and chief creative collaborator Taylor York). A video alone was all we expected to end out the week, but along with “Cinnamon,” Hayley pulled another move out of the Beyoncé playbook and graced us with a surprise record drop- presented as “part 1” of Petals for Armor in the form an EP, simply titled Petals for Armor I.
In addition to the trio of singles that already have received the music video treatment (in sequential order no less, which may be an indication about the plan for following weeks), Petals for Armor I includes two other tracks, the hypnotic and vibey “Creepin'” and a candid ode to yearning, “Sudden Desire,” all stunningly different from one another in a way that feels more uninhibited and creatively ambitious than perhaps any other album Williams has been involved in thus far. Oh, and as if that wasn’t enough news for a couple of days, the singer also unveiled some pretty stunning cover art for the eventual full-length.
We suspect we’ll be bringing you more Hayley Williams news in the near future (which we hope will include some live dates sooner than later), but for now, watch the “Cinnamon” video, stream “Creepin'” and “Sudden Desire” below or as part of Petals for Armor I on your platform of choice, and check out Hayley’s BBC Radio 1 performance!