Review: Hayley Williams – Roses/Lotus/Violet/Iris

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Hayley Williams’ latest single comes as a replacement for the second EP instalment of her debut album, Petals For Armour II. Airing her reasons for releasing a single opposed to the planned EP, Williams explained she didn’t “feel comfortable” releasing so many songs during the COVID-19 crisis. One of the main reasons for this being “worries” and feeling “a lot of anxiety”. However, her single ‘Roses/Lotus/Violet/Iris’ feels like four songs in one so we can’t really complain!

The song features indie rock band boygenius, which comprises of Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers, and Lucy Dacus, on background vocals. Similar to the songs on Petals For Armor I, the credits see Taylor York (guitarist for Paramore) producing the track, and Joey Howard (touring bassist for Paramore) on bass and keys. Though far less experimental than Williams’ recent releases, ‘Roses/Lotus/Violet/Iris’ still features her heavy breathing in various tones, and takes a powerful stance in encouraging female empowerment. On March 8th, Williams even shared these lyrics in honour of International Women’s Day.

‘Roses/Lotus/Violet/Iris’ takes listeners on a journey, particularly speaking to her female audience as it navigates feminism and femininity through metaphors of flowers and a garden. With the common phrase ‘Mother Nature’ these links make further sense. The tracks chorus brings together its four titles, dreamily repeating “roses”, then stating they “show no concern for colours of a violet”. The second half of the chorus follows, this time repeating “lotus” before singing “Hopes it won’t spark envy in your irises”. Williams’ personification of flowers and nature embody women and the constant struggles of comparison. But these moving lines state that other flowers, or rather women, should “show no concern” for how others look, and shouldn’t “spark envy” in their fellow sisters. ‘Roses/Lotus/Violet/Iris’ is certainly a song of solidarity that Williams clearly knew we could all use, and should certainly take on board at this moment in time.

With it currently being National Eating Disorder Awareness Week (22-29 March), the release of ‘Roses/Lotus/Violet/Iris’ and its opening lyrics feel even more striking. Williams begins the song “I have seen your body / And I have seen your beauty / They are separate things / Pretty, pretty, pretty things”. Here, the singer-songwriter makes an important nod to the link most ED victims hold between their weight/body size/shape and their beauty. By arguing that these two things are not inherently linked, Williams teaches her audience, and herself, a very needed lesson in seeing their own self-worth regardless of body image. She continues to dismiss thoughts of comparison to other bodies (similarly seen in the chorus mentioned above). The lyrics “But I am in a garden / Tending to my own / So what do I care / And what do you care if I grow? / If I grow” echo the message that we should not see our worth in relation to others, particularly their bodies, and vice versa. Though this link is not explicit, the lines “if I grow” could very easily be tied up in body image. Alternatively, Williams could be suggesting that we should all work on improving ourselves and our mental health, regardless of others opinions. Either way, it is a message we should all tune into, especially as mental health and eating disorders are destined to dip whilst we are all in self-isolation.

‘Roses/Lotus/Violet/Iris’ is an extremely relevant song, that is both acoustically and lyrically beautiful. Williams’ references to feminism, mental health and eating disorders encourage positivity and self-worth, teaching us all that we should grow and spread positivity regardless of others opinions. Since its release, Williams’ has shared a lyric video for ‘Roses/Lotus/Violet/Iris’, which features some behind-the-scenes footage of creating the song, alongside mesmerising visuals of flowers and petals.

The lyric video for ‘Roses/Lotus/Violet/Iris’ is accessible on YouTube via Atlantic Recording Corporation.

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