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Album Reviews, Music

Album Review: PVRIS – “Use Me”

By: Jessica Nakamoto –

 

 

 

Ushering in new beginnings with a resounding sense of confidence and poise, it’s become strikingly clear that PVRIS frontwoman, Lynn Gunn has always been her own secret weapon. Yet, like many hidden talents bubbling below the surface, until recently, her role as the sole driving force behind the group’s musical and artistic core remained unbeknownst to public perception.

Once a fan of skirting the spotlight, the singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and producer, used to find comfort and a safe space within the notion of PVRIS as a band. However, after recent years fraught with mental, physical, and emotional trials, Gunn’s ability to persevere not only reaffirmed to herself her own inner strength, but in doing so, finally inspired the artist to step out of the shadows and claim the credit she deserved. And what better time to do so than with the dawn of a brand-new music journey.

Marking their Warner Records debut, Use Me (out today – August 28) is PVRIS’ third full-length release and reflects a metamorphosis of both sonic tendencies and self-discovery for the group’s creative nucleus. From venting about the spiraling and contradictory feelings surrounding her battle with auto-immune diseases (“Gimme A Minute” and “Good To Be Alive”), to coping with the end of a long-term relationship (“Loveless”), Gunn’s voice rings out, permeating the record with personal stories and lessons from the very first song. In fact, an especially powerful moment emerges early on with lead single “Dead Weight”. A rebellious track from beginning to end, electrified guitars and buzzing beats punctuate Gunn’s frustration as she lashes out at situations involving “all give no take”. Lassoing listeners into her own mind vault, a mere three minutes and thirty seconds is enough to learn that the shy “people-pleaser” in Gunn is gone, and in her wake is a woman more confident and aware of her own worth than ever before.

Interestingly however, when it comes to the music itself, it’s the softer side not the loudest notes that makes the biggest statement. Known for waves of layered synths, bouncing basslines, and pulsing rhythms all undulating around an alt-rock foundation, PVRIS have been steadily pushing the boat out toward more electro-pop infused waters. Thus, while familiar tracks such as “Hallucinations” and “Death of Me” (which made their way onto the record by way of 2019’s Hallucinations EP) serve as a bridge between the group’s rock-leaning roots and pop-tendencies, newer material on the album illustrate an evolution in progress. The poetic yet bouncy track “January Rain” would find itself at home on pop-radio, while the emotionally-rich “Loveless” leans on acoustic guitar melodies and stands out for its stripped-down approach and sharp contrast to Gunn’s typical dance floor-made beats.

A single listen hints that Use Me is a snapshot of PVRIS in flux. However, one thing is abundantly certain. While Gunn’s curiosity and ability to stretch herself musically is still very much a continuing exploration, she has effectively broken free from the notion that kept her cocooned as simply a part of a larger whole. Symbolically put, there will be no more “taking wings off a goddess” (Dead Weight). Gunn’s already in flight, and as fans now know, it’s her strength and artistry that will determine where PVRIS lands next.

Recommended Tracks: Dead Weight / January Rain / Hallucinations

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