Use Me by PVRIS: Thoughts And Impressions

Use Me is the newest album release by PVRIS (pronounced “Paris”).  PVRIS is an American music group originally founded in 2012 as a metalcore band.  Since then their music has come to span across multiple genres, including electropop, synth, and alt-rock. 

Their previous two albums, White Noise and All We Know Of Heaven, All We Need Of Hell both received popular and critical acclaim, getting weighted averages of 88 and 86 respectively on Metacritic. 

Use Me’s releasewas delayed twice.  Its originally planned May 1 release date was pushed back due to COVID-19.  The album was then rescheduled for July 10, only to be pushed back again before ultimately dropping on August 28.  Regarding the second delay, band frontwoman Lynn Gunn, whose vocals prove a haunting and beautiful forefront to the album, released a statement through the band’s official Twitter. 

There she expressed that Use Me was being delayed again because she did not want to “take up space in promoting ‘USE ME’ at this moment in time…Self-promotion can wait for now and [she wanted] to make room and hold space for the conversation and message of the Black Lives Matter movement to continue.”  Instead of the release, she expressed that the band was setting up a charity auction so that people could come together and “use [their] collective power for good and to give back.”

Despite the delays, the album itselfhas been met with a similar reception to PVRIS’s other work. Album of the Year, a website that aggregates music reviews, gave Use Me a score of 86/100. 

NME, a music journalism publication, praised Use Me, particularly Lynn Gunn’s performance.  Leivers, the NME reviewer, notes that “Gunn has been the sole architect behind the Massachusetts band’s sleek pop-rock, a glistening blend of euphoric choruses, glossy synths and glistening guitars” and calls Use Me the album in which Gunn finally “steps forward into the spotlight.”

Though PVRIS’s style has evolved naturally over the years, Use Me retains the band’s distinctive sound.  Most of the songs contain deep, resonant bass intermingling with haunting harmonies, all carried by Lynn Gunn’s gentle, melodious voice.

The emotional weight of many of the songs on the album feels natural; there are clear parallels to the content of many of the songs and Lynn Gunn’s mental health struggles.  Gunn has opened up in the past about her depression and about seeking therapy to help her on the path to recovery.

The song “Good to Be Alive” for instance, features Gunn gently crooning lyrics like “Learning how to swim, but the land’s all dry” and “All my friends are doing fine while I’m looking for a sign.  Is this body even mine?  Feels good to be alive, but I hate my life.”

The opening track “Gimme a Minute” highlights a synth, echo-y bassline, as Gunn sings, “Just gimme a minute…Thought I got through it, maybe I didn’t” and “Inner peace, it’s hard to buy.  They’re asking why, I think I’m losing my mind.”

Notably, “Gimme a Minute,” which is arguably one of the best and most distinctive songs on the album, was also released with a music video a few months ago; the video is vibrantly colored, full of psychedelic, bright colors and unique, surreal imagery that evoke the same unearthly, transformational feelings that the song itself does.

Despite the unquestionable influence of Gunn’s mental health on this album, the punchy tunes and the resonant, frequently energetic pace of the music highlights the fact that the album is not meant to be defeatist in tone.  Even at the album’s slowest and must solemn, Gunn’s voice, bright and clear, cuts through the darkness. 

A couple of the songs on the Use Me album risk sounding repetitive if the entire thing is listened to straight through in a single go.  However, the album is ultimately a vibrant, brilliant piece of artwork with a strong emotional core, an insight into the beating heart of the band and the nature of their work.

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