Wide awake/ Just cut the head off a snake. Still spectral yet still sincere. PVRIS’ third studio album carries that signature honesty and originality that has bought them this far. The Massachusetts-based band, formally a metalcore group by the name Operation Guillotine, (I’m so glad that they changed that.) released their debut album, White Noise, in 2014.
The band was a trio formed of frontwoman, Lynn Gunn, bassist Brian Macdonald, and guitarist Alex Babinski, though he recently split over harassment allegations. In less than a decade, PVRIS has taken the alternative rock scene by storm, touring with bands like Pierce The Veil, Sleeping With Sirens, and even very recently, pop singer Halsey.
PVRIS have always been open to genre exploration, playing with synth pop and new wave/post punk sounds throughout their career, though one underlying theme encapsulated within every album is their dark raw lyrics. Frontwoman and creative behind the band, Lynn Gunn, has now taken the lead and accepted the spotlight, finally taking the credit that she has always shied away from, illustrated in the album art.
The album begins with something new and almost refreshing: it’s not really rock… Track one: ‘Gimmie a Minute’ starts slow but forms itself into an upbeat electronic synth song with steady drums accompanied by mental health orientated lyrics. PVRIS utilize the classic marriage of happy sound but heavy lyrics which, in a way, reminds me of Van Halens classic synth rock track ‘Jump’.
Sad lyrics always work well on a happy tune which brings me onto track four ‘Good To Be Alive’. This track, whilst positively upbeat and featuring more heavy drums and strong guitar, focuses on Gunn’s very personal, self-inflicted fights. ‘Is this body even mine?/ Feels good to be alive but I hate my life’. The contradicting lyrics may be polarizing for some listeners but also undeniably relatable for many others. One particular part that stood out to me was the nod to the last two albums in the form of lyrical references to human anatomy. ‘Veins are lit and the blood’s on fire’ are undeniably PVRIS.
In my opinion, this album isn’t as rock and roll as the first two but it brings the same anger and tempo that previous songs like ‘Fire’ and ‘Let Them In’ did which can be seen on ‘Dead Weight’. ‘Look what you started/ You’re turning me heartless.’ This track emphasizes the importance of recognizing self-worth despite how it may come across. ‘Dead weight hanging off of my shoulder/ Nothing changes, I’m getting colder. The gritty lyrics fall on a heavy drum beat and set a new tone for Lynn Gunn.
‘Loveless’ slows down the tempo of the album and injects it with sincerity, followed by an equally earnest ‘January rain’. Both the tracks are almost a continuation of the heartbreak showcased in songs from earlier albums ‘Holy’ and ‘Eyelids’, adding that element of authenticity that Gunn has always injected into her work. However, Use Me definitely ups the ante from the debut. This era of PVRIS is way more personal and individualistic, exposing more of Gunn’s real emotions and anxieties.
‘Use Me’ itself, as a track, is a glimpse into a new image of Lynn Gunn. One that isn’t afraid to step into the limelight with full confidence. This is also the first feature that PVRIS has allowed onto their album. 070 Shake aids the track bringing an intimate back of forth with Lynn. These two opposing yet complementary voices, further present Lynn as an individual artist in her own right.
The final track ‘Wish You Well’ is a fusion of further raw emotion but is most definitely a closure song. ‘I know one day you’ll learn to face the things /That turned your heart to stone’. Gunn comments on the song herself: ‘I never want to burn bridges with people. I never want people to be hurt. Even if a situation was toxic or wasn’t healthy, I still always just want the best for somebody.’ The music mirrors the mood, a graceful dance track with a strong yet optimistic baseline. She is shaking off all the sadness of the album and indulging in a body of work significantly more dancey than anything she has ever created.
‘Use Me’ is very much a mix of the previous two albums ‘White Noise’ and ‘All We Know of Heaven, All We Need of Hell’. Not just in genre but in the mix of intense sincerity and sad rage. In terms of sound, amidst all of the dance, synth, rock and psychedelic pop, they have a unique talent in making every song so different yet so noticeably PVRIS, and it definitely carries through this album.
Listen to the album here:
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