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BLUNT review: PVRIS – ‘Use Me’

When the third studio album from PVRIS comes out tomorrow, it should, on all counts, be a triumphant moment. The album process has seen frontwoman Lynn Gunn confront her demons and, despite being delayed twice, Use Me remains highly anticipated. Instead, allegations against guitarist Alex Babinski have marred release week for the former trio, who announced his departure from the band hastily on socials today. All that aside, we take a look at the new record from PVRIS on merit alone. 

PVRIS have never been afraid of a little experimentation. Originally a metalcore unit, they made the switch to alternative-rock on 2014’s White Noise, dipping their toes into dark, electronic-pop waters along the way. It was a decision that catapulted them to stages across the world, introducing them to a generation of rock show faithfuls. Their highly anticipated follow-up, All We Know of Heaven, All We Need of Hell, maintained much of the same energy, giving their music a home in both the moshpit and on the dance floor. On Use Me, PVRIS have switched lanes once again. Fully embracing their mainstream potential, the trio have taken the plunge, diving headfirst into EDM territory. 

Fans got the first taste of this ‘new chapter’ on the Hallucinations EP last year, where Lynn Gunn stepped into the role of sole architect, taking full creative direction as frontwoman, multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and producer. With greater confidence in her abilities, Gunn has maintained ownership on LP3, experimenting with beats, while also playing the drums, guitar and bass. 

“PVRIS have grown into what they were always destined to be.”

PVRIS have historically been notoriously hard to pin down genre-wise. At its core, the heart and soul of the band has always laid with Gunn and her stories, and this definitively rings true on Use Me. Sincere lyricism continues to be the greatest indicator of this, marking her immense personal growth whilst also documenting her experiences in the industry and in life. On a more intimate level, the record traverses through love, loss, healing and moving on. All eleven tracks bare the scars of her journey, but there are standouts to be found within. Take ‘Dead Weight’, which sees Gunn understand her self-worth as she steps into her power as a woman, shedding her people-pleasing skin. There’s also ‘Death of Me’ and ‘Loveless’, both of which go through the motions of a toxic relationship. 

Spending much of last year writing, recording and reflecting, Gunn collaborated with the likes of Marshmello (yes, that one), Amy Allen and JT Daly, the frontman for Paper Route who has also co-written for K. Flay. Daly especially became one of her go-to musical collaborators and a kindred spirit of sorts, encouraging new vocal techniques. These collaborations undoubtedly did Gunn a world of good, expanding her style of writing and views of melody, particularly in the midst of her ongoing vocal issues. Use Me will come as no surprise to long term listeners of the band, who instead will view it as a sum of all parts before it. Embracing and amplifying the dark-pop sensibilities presented on White Noise and AWKOHAWNOH, it’s refined, mature and easily their strongest work yet. While it will be interesting to see the next steps in this new era, for now, PVRIS have grown into what they were always destined to be.