Hayley does Petals for Armor track-by-track commentary

Hayley Williams breaks down every song from Petals for Armor in a conversation with Pitchfork. Click HERE to read the it in full and scroll down to read about the five track from Part III which came out today with album in full.

On Pure Love: You sing about getting “experimental” with someone, which could obviously be interpersonal, but it seems to allude to the music, too.

This has so much to do with me overcoming my fear of intimacy and learning new ways to connect with someone, trying so hard to let myself experience discomfort as a human being in order to grow. I didn’t ever mind the lyrics to the third part of the album coming across as innuendo. I was very happy to have that. So “getting experimental” in a relationship—people can take that sexually if they would like to, but I really see it as: I’ve never tried having a healthy relationship before in my whole entire damn life. It’s time for me to try what it feels like to communicate on a real adult level.

On Taken: What does it mean to you to be “taken” in the context of being free?

Shame has always been like a backpack that I carried around, and there was a point where I realized I didn’t want to carry it anymore; I got really tired of feeling like I was like in quicksand in my relationship. This song’s really playful because the kind of relationship I’m striving for is one that feels lighter. With some of this song, I’m maybe claiming something that I haven’t yet fully embodied yet. But I have hope that I can get there. Two individual people trying to come together—how the fuck do we do that? I don’t know how people make it work, but they do. And I believe I can be one of those people.

On Sugar on the Rim: The chorus of this made me think of Nine Inch Nails.

When Taylor and I were writing that one, he looked up at me as he was banging on a drum machine and was like, “What the hell are we doing right now? What kind of song are we making?” I was like, “Man, I don’t know. But it’s definitely not like anything we’ve made before.” I’m so intrigued by America’s moment with the rave scene in New York because it was so far beyond my reality when I was growing up in Mississippi in the ’90s. Being a musician, we have access to this massive home and we can either stay in one room and be comfortable, or we can continue to find new doorways and go in and figure out what that room brings out of us. For me, trying to stay humble and keeping yourself uncomfortable in the right ways is the secret to staying curious and creative.

On Watch Me While I Bloom: You sing about feeling lucky to be in your body again—do you remember the beginning of that feeling?

Part of it was getting my cycle back. My body was just a foreign concept to me for a while, so feeling biologically connected to myself again was powerful. The whole year of 2017, my only goal was to gain back some weight that I had lost due to anxiety and coping mechanisms that weren’t healthy for me. It’s just been a season of my life where I feel like: Holy shit. I’m returning to myself. This is crazy.

There’s an evocative image of earth and soil: “If you feel like you’re never going to reach the sky/Till you pull up your roots, leave your dirt behind…”

Lyrics are my favorite part of songwriting, and I love that verse so much, I’m very proud of it. I have this thing where I love Mondays. I love January 1st. I like new starts. I sometimes need that to propel me to change. That can lead me to procrastinate, because I’m waiting for the right moment, and sometimes life just isn’t going to give you those opportunities. You have to get up while you’re still covered in mud and figure something out for yourself.

On Crystal Clear: What feeling did you want to evoke at the very end of the album?

Falling in love. Emphasis on the falling—because despite my fear, my toughness, or any resistance to vulnerability, I couldn’t help falling in love.

Everyone from Paramore plays on this final pair of songs, too.

I feel like the permission we gave ourselves to make After Laughter is the same kind of permission we gave ourselves on Petals for Armor. It makes me excited for where Paramore could go next. Sometimes we talk about how we miss louder, guitar-driven music. And sometimes we talk about how we are obsessed with Aphex Twin, and how ridiculous would it be if we were all up on stage with different synths and machines? The cool thing is it doesn’t matter, because we can do any of it. As much as we’re willing to learn and grow is as far as we can go.