Song of the Week: Hayley Williams – “Simmer”

A startling song of quiet fury.

Hayley Williams has been teasing the arrival of her first solo project for a few weeks now, promising something different from Paramore’s music. On “Simmer,” she more than delivers, bringing forth a rhythmic, off-kilter piece of ominous electronica. With a slippery bass, jazzy percussion and breathy vocal tics, she finds the space between Thom Yorke’s solo work and Lorde’s pop sensibilities to create something thrillingly fresh.

While the music is outstanding, what really makes “Simmer” shine is Williams’ vocal delivery. Her voice is an expression of barely controlled rage, bringing forth the quiet, anxious anger that comes with deep-seated pain. The second verse is an especially heavy gut punch, when she sings, “If I had seen my reflection/As something more precious/He would’ve never…” By the end of the track, Williams finds that the best path through her darkness is to be alright with being vulnerable and feeling all the pain and joy of life. It’s an immensely powerful and empowering song that rides on a brilliant groove.

“Simmer” is the first single off Williams’ debut solo album, Petals for Armor, out on May 8, 2020.