When punk princess Hayley Williams announced her long-awaited solo music debut earlier this month, fans went wild. The Paramore frontwoman has always been a strong songwriter and musician, however it was in her solo career that her worth as an individual would truly be measured. And while she delivered, it wasn’t what anyone was expecting.
However, reflecting back after the release of lead single ‘Simmer’, what exactly did we expect? With Paramore having taken a step away from the rock scene on their latest album Hard Times, it signalled that Williams, who started on the scene at just 16, was growing up. Having dipped into different styles through various solo collaborations (such as 2010’s ‘Airplanes’ with B.O.B. and 2013’s ‘Stay the Night’ with Zedd), it seems that Williams has found her signature sound in wistful, dark indie-pop. With a backing track composed partially acapella (yes, that’s her beatboxing) and catchy, moody lyrics, ‘Simmer’ is Williams at her best. Creating a song that is undeniably hers, from the instrumental to the lyrics (co-written with Paramore bandmates Taylor York and Joey Howard) proves that it is possible to separate yourself from the legacy of such an iconic band and make a new sound as an individual artist. Subtle, exposed, a stark contrast to the loud, outspoken Paramore days, this is the music we didn’t even know we wanted from her.
In a statement, Williams said:
‘I’m in a band with my favorite musicians, so I never really feel the need to step into a role as a player when it comes to Paramore records. This project, however, benefited from a little bit of musical naïveté and rawness and so I experimented quite a bit more. […] Now that it’s time to put it all out there, I can finally exhale. I’m excited to let people in to experience a different side of myself that I’ve only very recently become familiar with.’
Indeed ‘Simmer’ feels like Hayley Williams’ first breath of fresh air in a long time. After taking time away from music following the release of 2017’s Hard Times, she has well and truly asserted herself as a talented singer and songwriter on a track where she chooses to be quietly brilliant. The music video, directed by ‘Get Lucky’ director Warren Fu, follows a vulnerable Williams running through the forest, chased by an unknown creature that only as the video reaches its climax is revealed to be Williams herself. Far from being scared, fans are more excited than before for the release of upcoming album ‘Petals for Armor’ (taken from the lyrics of ‘Simmer’) on May 8th.