Image: Lindsey Byrnes
Less than a year after the release of her debut solo album Petals For Armour, Paramore front woman Hayley Williams has followed up with the surprise release of her sophomore record, Flowers for Vases / descansos. The impressive follow up was written, recorded and performed solely by Williams during last years lockdown, a career first for the artist. Created at her home in Nashville, the record almost serves as a companion to the earlier tracks on Petals For Armour, continuing the spatial sonics and vulnerable lyricism.
Opening with First Thing To Go, the track sets the scene for the delicate, acoustic-led sonic palate that is to follow. The track recounts the past, painting a portrait with vivid imagery and striking beautiful lyricism. “Why do memories glow the way real moments don’t?” Williams ponders as she fears losing the memory of a relationship passed. My Limb’s vocal melody in its verses draws comparisons to the bridge of Williams’ 2020 song, Sugar On The Rim. The track likens the end of a relationship to the severing of a limb, with a riff that also bares similarities to Paramore’s hit, Decode.
Asystole takes its name from the medical term for heartbreak, with the track using medical imagery to depict the descent of a relationship, nearing the end of its course. Build upon guitar led sounds, the track ends with a chilling piano solo that could find its place within a Tim Burton animation. Continuing the analysis of past experiences and relationships, Williams recounts a toxic relationship on Trigger, whilst also wondering how to create art from a place of fulfilment. The achingly beautiful track features a delicate and moving vocal performance from the musician.
Tracks such as Over The Hills, Good Grief and Wait On sees Williams linger on her past relationship, whilst also navigating the current state of her life without her previous partner by her side and wondering what their current life looks like. Elsewhere, on No Use I Just Do, Williams resists trying to fight off her lingering feelings of love, set to an atmospheric piano led soundscape.
KYRH somewhat serves as a transition between the the records first and second half, built upon striking piano chords and soothing cello. Moving into the albums second half, Inordinacy serves as a recollection of Williams entire life, documenting the formation of Paramore, when her mother and Williams moved to Tennessee and the start of a relationship that brought trauma and warped the musicians view on her own femininity. The record includes an extended version of Find Me Here, a track while previously appeared on the Petals For Armour: Self-Serenades EP.
The records title track Decansos in an instrumental interlude, featuring haunting vocal ad libs and a number of field recordings, creating an emotion stirring, spatial soundscape that allows the listener a moment of contemplation after the emotional road the record has led them down. HYD and the records closer Just A Lover both utilises voice memo recordings as their intros, with HYD seeing Williams curse at a plane flying overhead, providing a brief comedic moment within the contemplative body of work. The implementation of the voice memos allow an intimate look into the musicians process, showing the evolution of a track from the initial idea to its final form. The latter transitions into the alt-rock sounds of Paramore, with Williams bringing some of her signature commanding vocals.
On her sophomore record, Williams has crafted a softer body of work that is centred around a narrower sonic palate than its predecessor. Bringing a more acoustic approach to the album, the pensive record relies on emptiness and space within its overall soundscape, creating atmospheric instrumentals that dance beneath Williams glistening voice. Her pulled back vocal performance paired with her evocative lyricism creates emotional moments of beauty, pain and hurt. The self reflective tracks weave together relationships and their lasting mental effects long after they’ve come to an end, themes explored in the earlier tracks of Petals For Armour, which is what leaves Flowers for Vases / descansos feeling as if it is additional material that exists within the same realm, however prior to the end point of Petals For Armour. Once again, Williams has created a beautifully poignant, and timeless body of work, that showcases the many faceted sides to one of our generations greatest artists.
Flowers for Vases / descansos is out now!