“[Simmer was] not the song we wanted from Hayley, but it was the song we needed.”
Journalists have music that they ‘have’ to listen to and music they ‘HAVE’ to listen to. For this writer we listened to Hayley Williams debut solo single Simmer because of Paramore’s importance in popular culture not because we’ve ever been Paramore Stan’s desperate to ‘HAVE’ their next release. The track dropped at 7pm GMT as Annie Mac of Radio One’s ‘Hottest Record in The World’ whilst we were out drinking in a bar which coincidentally had a DJ who played a Paramore song. The next thing we knew we were chatting to the DJ asking if they had heard the just dropped Hayley Williams track. The DJ confessed that they did not know of its release which led to us all hearing it for the first time together, and what a powerful experience it was for all of as a group individually and collectively- the overriding feeling as this was not the song we wanted from Hayley, but it was the song we needed. Hayley was originally signed as a 14-year-old solo artist with Atlantic, but Hayley stuck with her intentions of becoming a band. With a couple of decades behind her it was inevitable the ideas of working solo would emerge again, but we all assumed it would have some level of Paramore styling.
With an electronic low hum 8 count our ears immediately pricked with anticipation that Simmer may hold the key to another music thread to Hayley’s work from the threads we have got used to- bouncy angsty pop-punk and heartful confessional acoustic or piano led work. After the 8 count the hum continued to keep the beat throughout the track, but with the instrumentation that follows listeners are left with a slightly elevated headbeat, anxious as to what is going to happen next. The hum count, the methodical bassline and the full production you’re given have a feeling of being chased or a similar feeling to watching a horror film where someone is being chased- you’re apprehensive.
“Simmer is beyond the perfection we expected from Hayley’s first work away from the comfort of her band.”
Hayley’s opening word is “rage” which sums up the lyrical content of the track, let’s just say Twitter went in to meltdown when they heard the calm potency of Hayley delivering the word “fucker”. This may be the most powerful anger we’ve heard from Hayley which shows the maturity with the track, for someone with decades of history of teen confusion fuelled pop-punk the lazy route would have been to continue in that genre. Instead, what Hayley has given us is authentic pop with a drenching of trip-hop and film score-esque vibes. Simmer is beyond the perfection we expected from Hayley’s first work away from the comfort of her band.
Words: James Wadsworth @jamespart31