‘Simmer’ by Hayley Williams
By Sonam Kaloti, Arts Editor
Hayley Williams has finally cooked up a solo album titled Petals for Armor—and the first single, “Simmer,” was released on January 22. In an interview with BBC Radio 1, Williams explained the album’s meaning: “[Petals for Armor] is somewhat of a mantra to try to stay soft in a really, really hard world and feel pain and let all of it come to you and try to put out something that can redeem it all, even if it’s ugly at first.”
The track begins with some breathing and vocal samples with a bass heavy beat and muted snares. Uniquely, samples of her vocals and breathing serve to accompany the beat. This dark and groovy beat is reminiscent of Billie Eilish’s darker music; I was pleasantly surprised that the song and vocals did not go in that stylistic direction at all. Not too loud or overpowering, the slightly unnerving instrumental plays behind Williams’ voice as she comes in on the first verse.
“Rage is a quiet thing,” is the first line in the song. This reminds me of Twenty One Pilots’ iconic line, “Sometimes quiet is violent,” from their hit single “Car Radio.” Williams has created her own eerie, quiet yet profound lyric that will forever hold weight. The raw and vulnerable lyrics are somewhat new and are a blatant example of what Williams has gone through in the last few years, as well as how much she has matured through the process.
The chorus is very upbeat and repeats twice with a slight variation in rhythm to spice up the song. Williams pushes to, as she says, “give in” to the rage she feels and in turn, “simmer down,” once the emotions have run their course.
“The way for me to protect myself best is to be vulnerable and be okay with having a lot of pain at certain times and also feeling a lot of joy at certain times,” Williams continued in the BBC interview. The second verse holds the most emotional and vulnerable content. While the song thus far has reflected Williams’ introspection on her well-being, emotions, and approach to situations (“how to draw the line between wrath and mercy,”) the second verse goes into the root of some of her insecurities and the personal issues she is currently facing.
“If I had seen my reflection as something more precious, he would’ve never,” is likely a reference to her relationship with ex-husband, New Found Glory’s frontman Chad Gilbert. Paramore’s After Laughter album details some aspects to their relationship, as well as “Bad Mood” by Gilbert—which highlights Gilbert’s frustration with Williams’ insecurities and general unhappiness. Per the lyric from “Simmer,” it can be determined that had Hayley been more secure in herself and her happiness, she believes that Gilbert would still have blamed her for his actions and their eventual demise.
“And if my child needed protection, from a fucker like that man, I’d sooner gut him—cause nothing cuts like a mother,” is the second half of the second verse. Hayley both places herself as a caring mother who, if she was her own child, would have been saved from the pain Gilbert caused her, while also regretting that she did not protect herself as she should have earlier on.
“Simmer” was unexpected in terms of what it would be about. Lastly, in the BBC interview, Williams said: “Everything in the entire[…] planet […] should be making us angry right now,” and the fuel from the passion she feels has left us with this tragic but hopeful song. Overall, the single is amazing and fulfilled my extremely high expectations (blew them out of the park, really). The album Petals for Armor releases on May 8.