Since the release of their debut ‘White Noise’ in 2014, PVRIS have received worldwide acclaim and toured non-stop for the past three years. As always when a band causes such a magnificent stir with a debut release, the question on everybody’s lips when the follow-up comes around is always: will they be able to top that?
Turn to 2017, the band have plucked a line from an Emily Dickinson poem to title their eagerly awaited sophomore ‘All We Know Of Heaven, All We Need Of Hell’, and the Massachusetts trio have clearly expanded on the foundation of their sound laid in place with ‘White Noise’.
Lead single ‘Heaven’ is the first taste of the band’s new era. Filled with a catchy synth-loop, infectious vocal melodies from front woman Lynn Gunn, and an enticing bass line, any hype for PVRIS that may have died down during the past three years comes back to the forefront almost instantly.
Later track ‘What’s Wrong’ hold references to some of their older work, such as ‘Mirrors’ and ‘Ghosts’, as Gunn laments, “I’ll take the mirrors from the walls / So I can’t see myself at all / Forget the poems of saints and ghosts / I’m the one I fear the most”. Gunn has spoke about the state of her mental health during the creation of ‘AWKOHAWNOH’, and this track feels like a direct outpour of these emotions and ultimately one of the record’s most cathartic moments.
A notable concept that encompasses throughout the album is the duality aspect; the title, the artwork, it’s regularly weaved throughout the lyrics. ‘Half’ pioneers this idea, “Some days I feel everything, others are numbing / Can never find that in-between, it’s all or nothing.” These lyrics seem to follow in the same vein as ‘What’s Wrong’, and the verse creates a summary of some of the effects of depression and anxiety before the song paces onward to pack an emotionally fierce punch.
‘No Mercy’ jumps right out of the gate, claiming the title of most rock-driven song of the record, and bares a strong resemblance to debut album cut, ‘Fire’. As soon as Gunn chants “Show me no mercy”, combined with ferocious guitars and elevating drums, it’s clear that this is going to translate brilliantly live. It’s an explosive offering, and, in contrast, ‘Separate’ follows as the slowest track on offer here, and, as it unravels, it’s also arguably the band’s most haunting song to date.
Sophomores carry a lot of weight, usually either making or breaking a band, especially when following on from a breakthrough and seminal debut. It’s often difficult to imagine a band outdoing themselves afterwards when they slot into this scenario, but PVRIS have done just that. Through ‘All We Know Of Heaven, All We Need Of Hell’, not only has Gunn laid herself bare for us to dissect and examine, but the trio have also created a sonically open and atmospheric world.
Written by Phoebe Constable (@phoebecnstable)