Hayley Williams "Simmer" Review

“Simmer”, the first solo song from Paramore’s Hayley Williams’ solo project “Petals for Armor”, was just released on January 22nd, following a world premiere radio airplay on BBC Radio One. During a follow-up interview on the station, Williams stated that a full-length album will be released on May 8th, 2020, along with news of a tour.

The project was revealed through a series of cryptic hints taking place over the course of six months. Phrases like “I can’t breathe” and references to covering yourself in flowers were popping up on social media accounts of those close to the singer. 

An official Instagram account for the project was created in October 2019, where images and short clips were uploaded sporadically hinting at the project. Over the last few months, pictures of “Petals for Armor” promotional posters hung up in cities around the world such as Nashville, Toronto, London, New York, and Amsterdam began making their way onto social media and creating an online buzz for the upcoming release. Fans took it upon themselves to turn the marketing scheme into a scavenger hunt, posting pictures of the posters on social media and tagging the official account. 

On January 20th, 2020, a new Instagram post appeared with a snippet of a music video captioned “SIMMER by Hayley Williams 1.22.20”.
Williams has expressed that she is still very much a part of Paramore, but this solo project is all her own. Nevertheless, it features Paramore guitarist Taylor York (who is credited with producing the song) and Paramore touring bassist Joey Howard playing on the track.

The “Simmer” music video plays out like a horror movie trailer. Feelings of fear and anxiety are prominent, as most of the footage shows Williams running through a dark forest from an unseen menacing presence chasing her. The lyric “how to draw the line between wrath and mercy” cuts especially deep. The song itself is a brutally vulnerable look into Williams’ personal journey, as well as being a voice of warning for staying away from toxic relationships. In the Radio One interview, she recounts an experience that occurred while she was getting a massage and had drifted into a dream where flowers were growing out of her body, but “in a painful way…it reminded me that I have to stay soft in such a hard world.”  

The opening refrain of “rage is a quiet thing” echoes against a simple, yet layered melody that immediately draws the listener in. Williams experiments with falsetto vocals that shine through in certain moments, but the standout of the track is the smoothness in which she approaches dark pop elements mixed with introspective lyrics and an immersive production.