Hayley Williams Discusses Loss and Heartbreak in “FLOWERS for VASES / descansos”

%22FLOWERS+for+VASES+%2F+descansos%22+is+Hayley+Williams+second+solo+album.+%28Courtesy+of+Facebook%29

“FLOWERS for VASES / descansos” is Hayley Williams second solo album. (Courtesy of Facebook)

Ed Lucano, Contributing Writer

The year was 2007. Rihanna and Jay-Z’s “Umbrella” ruled the nation, Kanye West joined Twitter and Fall Out Boy was years away from selling out. As an impressionable eight-year-old, my budding taste in music was limited to what I heard on the radio, who performed at Nickelodeon’s Kids Choice Awards and what CDs my dad had in rotation in his car. However, every preconceived notion of what I thought popular music could be was shattered after one fateful trip to GameStop. With a plastic guitar in my hands, I was entranced by Paramore’s “Misery Business,” and my life was forever changed. From there on out, my journey of self-discovery through 2000s emo-alternative and pop-punk led me to develop a moderate amount of teenage angst that has led me to become a sad adult. Interestingly enough, Paramore’s lead singer Hayley Williams underwent a similar transition through her music upon the release of her sophomore album “FLOWERS for VASES / descansos.”

Through Paramore’s ongoing legal disputes and on-again off-again breakups, Williams has worked tirelessly over the last year to produce new material on her own. With the 2020 release of her debut album “Petals For Armor,” she proved her musical talents have stood the test of time through a variety of vibrantly exciting melodies and an unrivaled vocal range. Despite the album’s relative critical acclaim, Williams narrowed the scope of her sound on “FLOWERS” to further reflect her harrowing experiences of loss and heartbreak over the last 10 years that “Petals” seemed to mask. The finished product is a slow, somber and sweet collection of musings that is a go-to sounding board for anyone who is even remotely sad.

“Trigger” uses a less-is-more approach to songwriting and production to express complex feelings of anguish from a love lost. A minimalist arrangement of acoustic guitar and piano complements the underlying message of Williams’ lyrics, comparing the unpredictable nature of love and relationships to that of a handgun. Albeit common, her tasteful approach to this trope results in a woefully lovely ballad that should surely be in your rotation if the mood is right.

My favorite track is “Find Me Here.” Being there for a loved one in times of sadness or strife amid one’s own struggles is very challenging and can often result in resentment or codependence. Despite the inherent difficulty of this facet of maintaining a relationship, Williams’ offers an ode to the silver lining of love’s power through adversity. 

Overall, I enjoyed listening to “FLOWERS.” Williams’s new sound is certainly a far cry from her Paramore days, but after a while, I suppose veteran musicians like her have to slow down and let current teenagers sing about their own problems. In a way, this parallels how I am coping with being in my 20s. I am still trying to figure myself out, but my juvenile moodiness has mostly subsided because I have come to terms with how life actually has a funny way of working out. The road ahead may be tough, and loss could certainly be on the horizon, but having the maturity to deal with these feelings head on is what being grown up is all about. Essentially, “FLOWERS” is the alternative guide to adulthood I never knew I needed.