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Album Review: PVRIS – Use Me

Lynn Gunn leaves modesty, fear and doubt in her rearview to embrace the freedom of truth on PVRIS’ third album, Use Me

There’s a natural and understandable fear that comes from exposing who you truly are to the world. Especially if you’ve privately spent years working on figuring that out. For Lynn Gunn, PVRIS had until recently offered something of a shield, allowing room to be creative and express her artistic vision, but its public presentation as a collective provided a protective buffer that helped to deflect attention and share the weight of responsibilities. No longer, though. Album three, Use Me, is the first release in the PVRIS catalogue where that weight rests solely on her shoulders. There’s no hiding. For better or worse, this is Lynn Gunn – her talent, her story, and the truth of who she is at this moment in time. It’s a big, brave leap into the unknown for someone so previously spotlight-shy.

Firstly, how good the record sounds deserves major kudos. PVRIS songs have never lacked for cutting edge sonics, but the production – courtesy of Lynn and JT Daly – on these tracks is pristine, with a space between sounds that seems to amplify the impact of each one. The racing pulse of opener Gimme A Minute, the staccato punch of Dead Weight and sinuous grooves of Hallucinations have already set the tone and raised the bar for expectations, but there’s plenty more gold where that came from. Good To Be Alive, for instance, simultaneously manages to be among the most gentle and bombastic tracks the PVRIS name has ever been attached to, slaloming between genres with the kind of flair that others trip over themselves trying to achieve. ‘It’s good to be alive, but I hate my life’ as a refrain is a hell of a stark non sequitur, too. Elsewhere, the sultry disco charm of Death Of Me hits with the familiarity of an instant classic, begging for the release of a room full of fans singing along and dancing to it. The acoustic swoon of Loveless and the dual dreamy electro flourishes of January Rain and the title-track then make late bids to be the songs that will live on long after the hooky bounce of the record’s more boisterous moments have passed.

The lasting impression of Use Me, however, is that it sounds like the natural result of everything that Lynn has worked on up to this point – it’s never derivative, nostalgic, or trying to be anything that it’s not. It’s a PVRIS album, packing in every quality that she’s built that name upon, while powered by a subtle forward motion. That every idea and sound heard is hers and she can finally, proudly take sole credit for that is to be celebrated.

Given the narrative surrounding the release, it would be tempting to assume that Use Me represents some kind of culmination or conclusion. But really, it’s truer to think of this as a new beginning. There’s a sense that this is Lynn Gunn dipping a toe in the waters of owning the PVRIS name as hers and hers alone. The full potential of that discovery feels like it has yet to be uncovered. When she does, something truly special could be on the horizon.

Verdict: 4/5

For Fans Of: CHVRCHES, IDKHow, twenty one pilots

Use Me is released on August 28 via Reprise / Warner Music – pre-order and pre-save your copy now.

Posted on August 26th 2020, 10:46am
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