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Just close-ups of (occasionally) fibre-optic flowers, or is there more than that?
Published: 16/01/2020   Author: Eleanor Osada
Every time I go to write this article, or think I’m finished amending it, something else has happened. It’s a nightmare. But, since this all looks to be down to Hayley Williams, I am less bothered than I normally would be.

Anyway, consider this your master-post for all things Petals for Armor. Currently, at least.

It all began on November 12th 2019, when Twitter user @syd_oui noticed something strange. Paramore’s instagram account, which only follows a handful of people, had started following a bizarre, faceless account with the handle @petalsforarmor.
The account exclusively posted cryptic, macro images - seemingly of different plants, perhaps alluding to the same imagery in the username. In this new age of artists teasing new music via social media, fans were right to be suspicious from the get-go; in the replies, people got digging. The link in the bio led to a disappointingly blank, ‘parked’ page, but a search for “Petals For Armor” on Facebook proved some results, as pictured below. Both the first status and profile picture were uploaded on September 24th, meaning the page - and subsequently, the site - had been stagnant for nearly 2 months, with the Instagram uploading posts in October, seemingly for no-one in particular... Something had been in progress for a while now.
But within hours of speculation starting - both the hype around, and immediate dismissal of, the idea - the Facebook page was wiped, and the website generated an error message upon loading. Someone had been watching. 

Around 24 hours later, the website loads again. This time, there’s content: a muted, low-quality video of a butterfly on a flower - think 2002 camcorder footage. Even upon inspecting the site’s code, that’s all there is. However, there’s a real similiarity with this video and the Instagram posts; the penchant for flowers, the slight vintage haze, and the total lack of explanation, most importantly.
Amidst all the conjecture, Hayley Williams’ l'odet interview was resurfaced, in which she speaks of a therapy session where she “had this vision of all of these flowers growing out of me [...] this is what [I’ve] been digging around in the dirt for during the last year. This beauty and femininity and new strength is going to come out of [me], and I chose to hold onto it”. Williams also describes undertaking “a lot of gardening in my heart [...] and finding old roots that were in the way of other things blooming”. With all this intense floral imagery, Hayley must have some involvement, right?

Before long, Hayley also started following @petalsforarmor. Like a slow draw-back of the curtain, the project was being gradually unveiled.
The middle of December brought around another change to the page, this time, this video was uploaded. Looking more like it was filmed in the last decade - this video shows a quick pan over some fake flowers, and some out-of-focus zooms on their fibre-optics. All very strange.
Then, on 27th of December, her 31st birthday, Hayley breaks the radio silence. In an iPhone Notes screenshot, the most crucial part is purposely crossed out: “I’m putting out some music next year. With the help of some of my closest friends, I made something I’m going to call my own. It’s a really special project and you’ll get a taste of it in January.” Captioning the post, she chose a single Hibiscus flower emoji. Non-believers, at this point, were swayed. Surely, Petals for Armor *must* be Hayley.
Come the 1st of January, Hayley shares a post to her Instagram story... From the @petalsforarmor account. The confirmation everyone was searching for, I think. From there, things only got more cryptic. Hayley shared a screencap from the climax of Midsommar (2019). Note the pained expression and the crown of - yep, you guessed it - flowers.
Then, in tandem, @petalsforarmor and @yelyahwilliams share a row of the same posts: 3 black squares - cordoning off the earlier posts. Literally drawing a line; allowing for a new chapter.
On Monday the 6th of January, social media went into OVERDRIVE when Petals for Armor posted a video teaser across all their platforms. It’s short but sweet: fast-paced running through the woodland, a full moon, and some frantic breathing. Oh, and a date revealed at the very end. January 22nd.
The following day, cross-continental posters were spotted, bearing an image of Hayley holding up a sheet of cellophane, “Petals for Armor” in large type, and the website below. The first poster was spotted in New York, parked right next to Radio City Music Hall. The location led fans to believe the positioning may have been deliberate, suggesting potential future show venues - also including further posters sighted in Los Angeles, Nashville, Toronto and London.

Longtime friend and collaborator of Hayley's, photographer Lindsey Byrnes, reposted a snap of some of the London posters on her Instagram story, insinuating she may have some role in the photography or creative direction of the project. She has also been hanging out with Hayley during what appears to be a heavy period of pre-release promotion.
It’s unclear what sonic direction the side project will take, but a hidden video on the Petals for Armor site - the formerly muted butterfly video, now with audio - seems to include a snippet of a song, a very grainy one at that. But... Is it something? Establish for yourself with the clip below.

The teasing continued as Petals for Armor shared more black squares: this time, with captions. One reads “how to draw the line between wrath and mercy”, and a following post, just “wrath”. Dark.

The seriousness of the Instagram posts was paralleled with the silliness of the replies, and so in typical Hayley Williams fashion, she made light of it by sharing her favourites.

The silence set in again, but not for long. On the 13th, another video was posted to all social media channels. This one, again, features the panicked breathing and a first-person view of a run through the woods - but now there’s a red wash over everything, and an eerie, discordant synth pulse. Creepy.

Once the new video took its place on the website, fans did some sleuthing in the site’s code, only to find the words “RAGE”, “LUST” and “GRIEF” commented (hidden from display, but visible to those who go searching). With the prominence of “wrath” and “mercy”, there’s an implied thematic already. Is this Hayley’s spin on the seven deadly sins? General searches for “wrath and mercy” actually pull up Biblical verses, this line being of particular interest: “In the midst of the years make it known; In wrath remember mercy.”
Thought the enigmas end there? Nope! Another black square in the form of an Instagram post came on the 15th, with the caption “nothing cuts like a mother”. Along with rage, lust, wrath, grief and mercy... What does it all mean? Not just that, their Instagram story - again - was suddenly filled with screencaps from TV and films, much like the earlier Midsommar post. The one thing they all have in common is featuring a woman in turmoil, always fighting through it. Sometimes whilst protecting their child(ren), if we’re thinking about mothers... It could relate to the instinctive, protective violence of a mother. All the screencaps in question fall under the thriller or horror genre too, if that means anything for the cinematics from a future music video. 

As of the 16th of January, this is up to date. It’s been a busy two months, and while we don't know much, we should be sure that no-one is ready for what Hayley and friends are going to unleash with Petals for Armor.



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