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Review: Hayley Williams – FLOWERS for VASES / descansos

Hayley Williams has delivered us her lockdown baby FLOWERS for VASES / descansos only 9 months after Petals For Armor. Having had her tours cancelled, it was a relief for fans to hear there was a new album coming out instead. Like a lot of artists, Hayley Williams has taken advantage of the time off touring to be able to sit down and write music. She sees her second album as a prequel to her first, a more simplistic laidback affair.

Having come out more than a month ago now, it has taken me a while to get into. Unlike the excitement of the first album release, the second album comes with a slow peaking of intrigue. Beginning with ‘First Thing To Go’, this concept album recounts a journey of loss and coming to terms with absence, which is very relevant to our current climate. Unlike the bitterness seen in ‘Leave it Alone’ on Petals For Armor, this album is more of an open wound, an ode to the process of heartbreak and an exploration of tough themes. The album regains some of its missing groove with ‘Over Those Hills’ that has both a catchy hook and lyrical melody. 

However, for me the album peaks at ‘Inordinary’ with spine-tingling lyrics about escaping her parents’ domestic situation and being able to start afresh. This song presents the relief that she may not have known she needed. There is a sense of beauty in the simplistic as showcased through the stripped back sound of the strumming of the guitar and bare piano chords in the chorus. For me it depicts how the cumulation of all these negative experiences expressed throughout the album have made Hayley Williams who she is now. In a twisted way, we have to be grateful for everything Hayley Williams has been through. As a consequence, she has been able to produce meaningful honest music that manages to appeal to her audience in such a moving way.

Moreover, further momentum is gained with ‘Just A Lover’ and it may well become my next favourite. I cannot stop thinking about the line ‘one more ugly stillborn cry’. The harsh truth of this album will continue to hit me the more times I listen to it. I think it will continue to grow to the point where we will look back at this album with fond nostalgia. If only there were a CD version, how will the pretentious old-timey people like myself cope? 

As is often the case, the second album will never live up to the debut. Yet, this does not mean I am ungrateful for FLOWERS for VASES / descansos. It is undeniably worth a listen and I implore you to. You never know how soon a tour will be announced and you’ll need to belt all the lyrics out. I’m sure Hayley Williams would be grateful.

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