A glorious testament to Williams' songwriting
Ross Carley
14:27 5th February 2021

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Hayley Williams dropped her second solo album, FLOWERS for VASES/descansos unannounced last night as a surprise for her adoring fans, who have become nothing short of a cult following since Williams' incredible success with Paramore. The album was written and recorded entirely by Williams herself at her home, a glorious testament to her songwriting and talent as a musician. 

FLOWERS for VASES appears to us almost as a series of diary entries in lyrical form, seeping with  emotion and depth shown through various forms, be it a haunting and mellow pop song like ‘My  Limb’ or the more acoustic and folky track ‘Asystole’. The songs all appear to tell stories of relationships or self-reflection, or in the case of ‘Trigger’, both - “I got the trigger / but you hold the  gun.” The album is full of powerful and harrowing lyrics such as this. 

Despite overarching themes of bliss and sorrow contrasting one another, Hayley dares to offer  alternative takes too with some pop and rock inspired sounds particularly noticeable in ‘Over Those  Hills’, a song that blends pop drum beats and electric guitar riffs with the folk-like vocals and acoustic guitar. A particularly nice thing about ‘Over Those Hills’ is the way it features the initial recording  demo at the beginning before breaking into the main song. It feels as though we’re being let in on William’s creative process, like you’re in the room lying on her floor as she writes away at her desk.

On a musical level, too, this album is spectacular. Intricate acoustic arpeggios, thoughtful rhythm  melodies and vocals that range from gentle to enticing. ‘My Limb’ especially highlights William’s talent as one of the best pop artists of the decade. The vocal range she displays with the chorus harmonies are second to none, paralleled with intricate guitar work in the mix and the marching drum beat, ‘My Limb’ is objectively the standout track of the album. The title track, ‘Descansos’, is a beautiful, 2-minute-long instrumental comprised of a small string section, swirling soundscapes and piano which manages to say a lot without saying anything at all, the short melody encapsulating thoughts and feelings of the album in a concise and elegant way. 

Overall, the album is a wonderful and comprehensive collection of work and a stellar second solo album from Hayley Williams. For fans of St. Vincent and Taylor Swift, or anyone really looking to get into  their feels and have a little cry.

FLOWERS for VASES/descansos is out now.

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Photo: Press