“Simmer” begins with heavy breathing followed by a large exhale from Hayley Williams; the woman who has spent most of her life with a band of boys singing and performing pop/rock tunes. As a huge Paramore fan since my teenage years, I always thought Hayley would eventually venture into the solo world in order to take full control over what she wants to put out into the world. Did I think it would be in 2020? Absolutely not. I fully expected Ms. Williams to dive into her hair dye brand and take a good couple of years to live her personal life and pop in to complete some Paramore tasks on the side. But “Simmer” is here and has blown me away. It’s not what I expected, but is everything I wanted to hear from Hayley.
The song starts on a strong note with one simple line that seems to hold a lot of weight with the singer; “rage is a quiet thing”. In regards to the dark, angry tone of the track, Hayley told BBC Radio 1, “I have a lot of anger. I feel angry, like I’ve been through things that make me feel angry, I’ve witnessed things that are so not justified, and I’m angry.” In a way, “Simmer” is incredibly cathartic. It feels like Hayley pieced together journal entries from the past couple of years and created a concept that is relatable and meaningful to so many people. Throughout the rest of the song, one big question creeps to the surface in the chorus; “how to draw the line between wrath and mercy?”, which is such an interesting question to pose as it relates to anger. I’m sure being in the public eye can shift your mindset when it comes to processing anger outwardly for fear of ruining your image or the overall perception of who you are – which is something Hayley probably struggles with. The question itself stands up on its own in a powerful way.
When it comes to the musical DNA of “Simmer”, it has Taylor York written all over it. I’m so happy that Taylor was involved in the making of this song, because he truly knows how to create unique chords and medleys. A steady drum beat, haunting vocals, and a subtle bass line highlight this supercharged dark anthem (think Death Cab for Cutie meets Florence & The Machine). Not only is York a production maestro, but he is trusted by Hayley to bring her words to life sonically. “Simmer” feels like a walk down a dark hallway in the middle of the night. It doesn’t sound like Paramore in the slightest, which is a true testament to Hayley’s artistry and vision to make music she wants to make. Petals for Armor is an incredibly beautiful concept and I can’t wait to see the rest of her musicality come to life.
The album Petals for Armor is set to release on May 8