Album Review: Hayley Williams — FLOWERS for VASES

Categories:  Music    The Arts
Friday, February 26th, 2021 at 12:37 PM
Album Review: Hayley Williams — FLOWERS for VASES by Samantha Mannion

Hayley Williams’ new album, “FLOWERS for VASES,” is a heartbreaking, haunting and melancholic portrayal of a breakup. You can tell her 2017 divorce really affected her, and she let it all out through her writing. If you’re a fan of music pushing you to really sink into your emotions and feel them for all they’re worth, this album is great for that. Unfortunately, that is not my usual cup of tea. There are still plenty of elements I like about this album, so let's take a deeper dive into it, song by song.

"First Thing To Go"

This song is about slowly forgetting the person you once loved. For Williams, the first thing to go was her loved one’s voice The production on this song is simple, which lets her lyrics shine more. She's good at capturing a feeling with her writing and the haunting tone really works. It helps capture the feeling of someone gradually slipping away from your mind.

"My Limb"

This track is about feeling like you lost your limb, being without your significant other. It’s an interesting metaphor to contemplate. It's lyrically very dramatic and intense, but could be around 30 seconds shorter as it does get repetitive toward the end. I suppose if you were really vibing with it, the extended runtime could be worth it. If you’re like me, you may find yourself going onto the next song early.


“Asystole” is another track based on a fascinating concept. According to, it is a medical term for when there’s no electricity or movement in the heart. This essentially means you do not have a heartbeat. Williams makes the link between that and when a relationship has no heartbeat anymore; you’re experiencing asystole and need to decide whether or not to revive it. She points out that when a person dies or when a relationship (in her case, marriage) dies, it doesn’t just affect one person. It affects a group of people. Melodically, this song has a nice catchy tune to it. It will definitely get stuck in your head. The production is again simple with very few instruments used. This makes Williams’ voice really stand out.


My favorite part of this song are the first verse lyrics. It's a very real interpretation of sadness. She talks about her negative experiences in romance and how she needs to feel like it has a purpose, which is why she talks about it in her music so frequently. The hook is also very catchy it’s a clever line “Yeah, I got the trigger but you hold the gun. How come you never put the safety on?” As much as I like it, t gets repeated far too often (it occupies the last 90 seconds of the song). I feel like she could have done something else with that space, or just ended the song after one repeat of the hook.

"Over Those Hills"

The production here gives it a dramatic, moody feel that fits Williams’ vocals very well. It also has a nice guitar riff going for it. The song manages to be lyrically repetitive, yet not boring. The hook, much like the last track, is very catchy, but isn’t overused. It’s the line “We could look out together over those hills forever.” It also melodically able to implant itself in your brain. You still find yourself waiting for but you.

"Good Grief"

One thing I really like about Williams’ music is that her lyrics make you contemplate things. They’re thoughtful and you can tell she was telling her truth while writing them. Chief among them is the line, “There’s no such thing as good grief.” She talks about the emptiness she felt after the marriage ended. Production wise, they did something interesting and made her sound like she was harmonizing with herself. It gives this song and her voice an interesting tone. The only downside here is that there isn’t much happening in terms of instrumentation.

"Wait On"

This song uses interesting metaphors to really draw you in. She starts by saying the sky sometimes feels the need to pour out all the feelings it has. Yet, it doesn’t because it knows what it needs to do and finds a way around all of the clouds. She is clearly comparing this to when people feel sad but find a way to be strong. She does a similar thing when using a bird who never flew but still had feathers. My big complaint is that there isn’t much musically going on within the song. The metaphors are interesting but don’t hold you for three minutes.


This song has a similar problem to the last track; it’s boring. There are only a handful of lines in the song, and the music doesn’t tell much of a story either. All she says is “Keep you right here where the line is. Keep you right here at my fingers on the surface.” Its two sentences of lyrics. It’s only two and a half minutes, and yet it cannot hold your attention for even that amount of time. Her voice and the song still sound good; it's just not very interesting.


This is a prime example of Williams’ ability as a storyteller and lyricist. You feel like you get to know her and her journey as a person. I learned so much about her and how she grew up through this song, and it helped me sympathize and relate. The journey she takes you on lyrically is aided by the fact that the rest of the song is so simple. There are no distractions to her baring her soul to the listeners.


“HYD” is an acronym meaning “how you doing.” This is the song I related to most when I initially listened to the album. It talks about how curious you get about your ex-significant other after a breakup. You go from talking every day and sharing your life with this person for a long time to complete and total radio silence. That can be awkward and weird, which this song captures in its lyrics. There is a fun production element at the very start of the song where you hear a vocal take that got ruined by an airplane flying. It's a funny and cute moment that lets you in on the process in a way you aren’t normally.

"No Use I Just Do"

This is perhaps the saddest song on the album. It’s definitely a ballad, and it takes an even bigger emotional toll on the audience than the rest of them. She talks about the hopelessness she feels in trying to get over her ex-husband. She could try and move on and not love him anymore, but it’s no use. For Williams, he is still “the one” and no amount of anything or anyone can fill that void. This message hits you hard, especially with how close up and intimate her voice sounds. You can hear every little detail in her vocals. That really enhances how melancholic the backing piano sounds.

"Find Me Here"

This song really expresses the loyalty Williams had to her husband. To me, it’s saying that no matter where he goes or what he has to do, she will be waiting for him when he comes back. She really lets us in on how much she loved him and how much she struggled to let go of their relationship. The production makes it sound kind of like a dream or a memory, which matches the quality of her vocals. It creates a vibe within the track that's super interesting.


This instrumental feels like vignettes of her life. The composition is piano, guitar and her playing with a child. It's moody and also feels like the type of track that would make you look out your car window as a kid and pretend you were in a movie. In the best way possible, I don’t think I’ve heard anything like this before.

"Just a Lover"

The last song, “Just a Lover,” features some of my favorite production on the album. It starts with what sounds like a demo of her singing the song's first lines. This is an element that grabs you instantly. It also gradually goes from acoustic to more electric pop-rock, indicative of her work in Paramore. When I said the album’s production wasn’t taking me on a journey, this is a perfect example of a song that does. You're fully grooving with it by the time it’s done, and you don’t even feel yourself doing it because it’s so gradual. I'm not fully sure what the lyrics are trying to say, but I’m enjoying myself while listening, which is a nice change of pace from the heaviness of the album.

Overall, the album was good. It's still not something I would choose for myself because it’s not my vibe. However, if you are into heavier and more emotional music, I do suggest it. Let it help you feel all the things you need to.

Samantha Mannion is a staff writer for The Spectator. She can be reached at

Tags: album review

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