PVRIS – ‘Use Me’

By Dave Stewart

After exploding onto the scene back in 2014, Massachusetts’ PVRIS have been an unstoppable force as they’ve sped past milestone after milestone. Their critically acclaimed debut album ‘White Noise’ received nothing but praise across the board, with follow up ‘All We Know Of Heaven, All We Need Of Hell’ getting the same treatment in 2017, while most recent EP ‘Hallucinations’ started to turn even more heads in their direction. Brand new record ‘Use Me’ sees them take everything they’ve built over their career and mould it into something staggering, and it really is something you’ll want to be absorbed by.

This record finds PVRIS leaning more heavily into their electronic sound, surrounding their alternative edge with pulsating synths, pounding drum samples, and a whole host of textured instrumentation. The move into this territory has opened up a raft of creative ideas and they’ve injected these into the music, blending countless additional genre influences with their already established sound. Album opener ‘Gimme A Minute’ sets the tone and provides a lavish example of that, opening with relaxed and stripped back tones that slowly creep towards a thumping dance influenced chorus that intensifies with every repetition. ‘Stay Gold’ uses a similar formula, intricately weaving RnB vibes into their fabric and wrapping it tightly around a gigantic, infectious chorus. And it doesn’t stop there.

‘Death Of Me’ is the most obvious blend of their old sound and the new, the entire song sounding like a club version of a song that could’ve been featured on ‘White Noise’. The verses are drenched in pop melodies that erupt into a fiery chorus, laced with the haunting undertones that made their early work so addictive. Those ominous tones ring through ‘Old Wounds’, too, with an un-ignorable dark cloud hovering over front woman Lynn Gunn’s insatiable and honest vocal performance. ‘Hallucinations’ is a slice of something similar, combining a selection of all their oldest tricks with their newfound love for synthesisers to propel the irresistible melodies to all new heights.

This record isn’t all about the electronic feel and the darkness, though. There are a lot of softer moments that really stand out and have the power to send shivers through your entire body. ‘Loveless’ is a perfect example of this, the completely stripped back instrumentation allowing Gunn’s vocals to take centre stage as they add layer upon layer, creating a luscious orchestra of harmonies. ’Good To Be Alive’ plays a similar game, using acoustic guitars and spacious vocals to create a calming atmosphere and then cleverly playing with the dynamics to allow the vocal hooks to sink into your brain. There’s the chilled out and radio-ready vibes of ‘January Rain’, the palpitating and lusciously crafted ‘Use Me’, the funky and addictive power of ‘Wish You Well’ – this is their most adventurous record to date and, unsurprisingly, its gorgeous.

PVRIS have come an awfully long way from their up-beat pop punk beginnings. They’ve grown and matured into experienced songwriters, now able to compose effortlessly catchy pop that still has the fierce alternative bite that saw them rise to prominence all those years ago. The songs are accessible and could woo fans of a whole host of genres, but their trademark lingering sense of darkness clings on to each track. They’ve made incredibly catchy songs that you can both fall in love with and wallow in, able to blend beauty and gloom together in perfect harmony. It’s no easy feat to tread that line, but ‘Use Me’ plainly shows that PVRIS don’t have any trouble walking it whatsoever. Yet another giant leap forward for a phenomenally talented band.

DAVE STEWART

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