Electro alt-rockers PVRIS quietly unleashed themselves upon the world at the end of 2014, simmering themselves away as small fish in a very big pond, their electro-riddled alt-rock debut album ‘White Noise’ followed the cult-like received single St. Patrick and all of a sudden the small fish were the big fish in a small pond, because no-one broke friendships through arguments of what genre they were like they did.
My first opinion of PVRIS was built upon two points:
- They were billed as the modern-day Paramore, even with Paramore still actively releasing music, whether or not it’s of the quality of Riot!
- I couldn’t, for the life of me, understand why rock and metal magazines were covering what I believed was a straight-up pop group being edgy.
Quite honestly, these were two of the most foolish, inadequately and somewhat ineffectively evidenced points I have ever even attempted to base an opinion on. Somewhat ironically, I caught their set at Slam Dunk Midlands 2015 and found myself with my jaw agape, marvelling at the sheer talent the three members possessed on stage, multi-tasking copious arrangements of instruments, doing the absolute maximum to be unequivocally minimalistic, and sounding as if a woolly mammoth was present at the same time. That, and I was in awe of vocalist Lynn Gunn’s sheer vocal talent, a woman who possesses banshee-like qualities and yet can switch to being almost sprite-like in vocal nature.
Post-festival blues led to some deep exploration of their back catalogue, which essentially was an incredibly thorough and remarkably repetitive yet whole-heartedly enjoyable emotional rollercoaster tour through their debut, ‘White Noise’, playing it somewhat religiously.
Relentless touring has built them up into the modern-day Paramore they were touted as, without being anything like Paramore, and all the better for it. Paramore’s initial run (pre self-titled) was iconic because Hayley Williams was the frontwoman the world needed, the voice of the voiceless, the rage against the machine, if you will. Lynn Gunn has quite rightly taken her place as that voice, and is playing a far more important, albeit vulnerable position.
This leads me to my key point: PVRIS’s recently announced sophomore long-player – ‘All We Know Of Heaven, All We Need Of Hell’ – will be the reinvention and crowning of them.
Last year’s water-treading ‘You And I’ stripped back their aesthetics somewhat, highlighting not only the vocal talent of Lynn Gunn even more so than before but showcasing their ability to write songs that are lyrically so personal yet so relatable, words the woman (and men, in all honestly) need in this day and age. “I can’t keep you in my arms so I’ll keep you in my mind” – elegantly open, PVRIS navigate the sea of real life with their lyrics, somewhat appealing, in my own opinion, to those battling demons in the mental health region, or in fact, just battling broken hearts. This was the beginning; the less ambiguous lyrics, the stripped-back electro-driven approach, the stylistic movements.
So, enter Heaven. The debut single from their sophomore effort. It’s powerful, it’s poignant, and it’s personal. Coming off instantly as the clear-cut successor of You And I, Heaven is led by pianos, beautifully played as if it was plucked like fruit from the trees of Eden, yet it explodes into synthy waves of experimental electricity. Lyrically, it rips apart what you know of them by embracing somewhat spirituality as a metaphor for love and loss.
Super-hit St. Patrick has the line – “and I’m not spiritual/ but please stay/ ‘Cause you’re a glimpse of bliss, a little taste of heaven” – and Heaven itself cries: “you took my heaven away.” Quite honestly, this is to me as if Lynn Gunn is ripping apart what we know of PVRIS, just like what she knew of love, and of loss, and of heaven and hell, faith and fate, and so on, was ripped apart for her by someone or something. If ‘White Noise’ was navigating love and all its territories, ‘All We Know Of Heaven…’ is undoubtedly set to be about fighting loss, the demons it brings, and the pain it harbours.
With three years of countless tours behind them, this time round they have a built-in fan-base ready to pounce, projecting them upwards in the chart rankings and elevating their status above where they are sitting now, deservingly of course. It is simple to dismiss PVRIS as a pop band playing on the rock vibe. It’s simple to dismiss them as another group with synths and a female singer. We’ve got loads of them, sure. What it isn’t easy to do is to ignore them. I couldn’t. You could argue I was beaten into submission. My friends loved them, the radio played them, I got stuck watching them. I surrendered to their beauty, and now it’s time to see their beast.
‘All We Know Of Heaven And All We Need Of Hell’ is out on August 4th 2017 on Rise Records.