It’s no secret that the driving force behind the American alt-rock band PVRIS is frontwoman Lynn Gunn, who has proved to the world the extent of her talent with the release of PVRIS’s third studio album Use Me. In 2017 PVRIS dropped their second album All We Know of Heaven, All We Need of Hell which then followed with Gunn going through constant struggles from depression, to vocal damage and a loss of self-confidence, struggling to take credit for how much she dedicated to PVRIS and the band’s vision. Three years on, Lynn Gunn has gone on a transformative journey, openly taking credit for Use Me, which is an album that Gunn has poured her soul into and captured her journey towards healing and self-acceptance in. Each song speaks about the struggles Gunn has gone through and the different stages we take towards finally accepting ourselves, accompanied by electronic beats that evoke a whole new sparky energy compared to PVRIS’ usual darker, macabre sound.
Album opener ‘Gimme a Minute’ delves straight into the pain Lynn Gunn has endured over the last few years, from her vocal damage in which she sings with sharp notes: “Someone just ripped out my throat / Told me to sing while I was choked” over a pulsating bass line, to “Break your Heart / Your whole body falls apart”, a line that conveys the physical exhaustion of heartbreak. This track encapsulates the anxiety of trying to recover and needing ‘a minute’ to deal with the thoughts, feelings and setbacks of life cause you to feel, before being able to heal from them. There is an uncertainty when it comes to recovery and not knowing if you’ll ever truly get over certain situations, which is what Gunn address in the songs chorus as she bluntly states: “Thought I got through it, maybe I didn’t, uh / Thought it was over, maybe it isn’t / Just gimme a minute”. There is a deep nature to this track, but the music that accompanies it is spongy and dense. It distracts you from the song’s initial message. Yet, the music adds more layers to the song as we tend to seek out distractions in order to not have to face our problems, as we hide from them instead of allowing ourselves to overcome them.
The third track ‘Stay Gold’ is filled with a zesty major chord progression and lyrics that cover the conflict of writing songs about people you love as Gunn signs: “Don’t want to trap you in a song like all the others / ‘Case they’re dying off every night next to each other / Leave them on the stage, ‘til they fade and I don’t love them / Anymore”. There is a sense of newfound joy in this song which you can hear in Gunn’s vocals and the bubbly melodies of the snythpad and guitar. Along with this joy there is an element of protection that Gunn has towards this person she is singing about which is expressed in the line “don’t wanna sing it to a sea of blurry strangers”. This suggests that Gunn is realising that she can love people without having to sign about them and that sometimes creating songs about heartbreak or relationships ends up doing more damage than good.
In contrast to the upbeat nature of tracks like ‘Stay Gold’, there is one acoustic track on this album. ‘Loveless’ is musically the calmest song on Use Me, but one of the most emotive tracks lyrically. It is the one track that Lynn Gunn seems to contradict herself, especially when it comes to her no longer desiring to sign about relationships. The song focuses on a relationship that has left Lynn Gunn feeling unlovable whilst the other person hasn’t noticed how much pain they have caused and remain unaware of the suffering that Gunn has gone through. The quietness of the vocals and the tender guitar strums throughout ‘Loveless’ creates a sensation of grief and the choice of acoustic guitar separates this track from the rest of the album. Gunn knows signing about this experience is going to hurt and feel out of place on this record, but the softness of the song adds an element of reassurance that after ‘Loveless’, Gunn will truly be free from making songs about heartbreak.
Each song feels carefully placed, giving the album a distinctive and purposeful structure that assists in telling Gunn’s story in its truest form. Gunn even stated that the second track ‘Dead Weight’ is almost the aftermath of ‘Gimme a Minute’, with the focus being on letting go of energy and situations that no longer serve you, rather than being too anxious to let go and move on from them. Not only does this album have a compelling structure, Use Me is a full-on musical whirlwind filled with turbulent beats and pulsing basslines, to gentler tracks coated in calm guitar melodies and lucid synthpads. Gunn has given listeners a detailed account of how chaotic life can be to the turmoil that healing from trauma can cause and the strength needed to heal from ‘Old Wounds’.
The versatility throughout the entire record as well as an undeniable pop-groove that gives this album a completely unique sound that PVRIS have never done before. This is without a doubt PVRIS’ best album to date and is a glittery pop-punk haven that shows the extent of Lynn Gunns’ creativity. The direction PVRIS will take following this release is one filled with limitless creative possibilities.
Words by Emmie Cosgrove
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