Every contemporary music formation should strive for growth and development. PVRIS – the Massachusetts-based former trio, now duo, is a true example of what this looks like. Since the release of their 2013 self-titled EP the act has developed so much it is hard to comprehend.
I can’t hide I instantly fell in love with the latest record Use Me. The more you listen the deeper and more sophisticated the album gets – filled with references to past releases, growth, passion, personal stories, and exceptional musical production Use Me is a 2020 essential type of music.
PVRIS have gone a long way since their entrance into the realms of professional music. The post-hardcore formation managed to produce quality tracks since day one. However, the progress that came with each consecutive release is one of the main aspects making the band the absolute treasure they are. The other ones, in case you were wondering, are the incredibly intimate and out-of-this-world live shows as well as their down-to-earth honesty and openness as human beings.
The foundations that their debut full-length White Noise set went through bone-chilling development in All We Know Of Heaven, All We Need Of Hell and now reached a heartwarming (despite the emotional heaviness) pique with Use Me.
One thing that never changes with a new release when it comes to this band is that inspiration always comes from Lynn’s personal experiences and overwhelming contemplations. That was gracefully manifested with the intimate topics of White Noise which gradually expanded into themes touching greater, more global yet somehow still personal themes.
Duality, past lives, relationships with oneself and others were explored in such haunting accuracy in All We Know Of Heaven, All We Need Of Hell it felt like we were transported into a realistic ghost story. That was part of the band’s aesthetics and the image they want to create to support the album. It all worked out beautifully achieving an effect not many bands are capable of.
Use Me built upon this an showed the growth and development that followed after the events of the last album. No matter what one expected the result was sure to blow them away.
I might be biased due to my over-obsession with PVRIS, but I am not joking when I say that the first time I heard the album I loved every single second of it. There was not even one song I thought is “meh” – each track made me eventually burst into mini dance sessions and singalongs.
The next few times I heard it things only changed for the better. I started appreciating the depth of the lyrics and the clever references to past songs as well as the genius musical arrangement.
Generally, the sound of Use Me stays consistent during the course of the album (except for the ballad-like Loveless and RnB-infused title track). The always recognizable PVRIS type of dreamy guitar and electronic focused sound is present but steadily elevated compared to the previous records.
Instrumental breaks are still here to give the opportunity of crazy crowd jump explosions during live shows (or solo performances while you are listening alone in your room). The sound almost feels brooding and distant at times which is an effect I have always admired.
Some might say that Use Me sounds repetitive and too similar to previous releases, but I would strongly disagree. New influences and inspirations are subtle but visible – synth-wave, more electronics, string instruments, and even pop and RnB make rightful appearances to bring the classical PVRIS sound to the next level.
Great things don’t come the easy way and this applies to most of PVRIS’ music. Personal issues and struggles with pressure, stress, and loss of direction have been following the band since the release of White Noise. For All We Know Of Heaven, All We Need Of Hell the band struggled with fighting their own prejudice and self-inflicted pressure. They even had to resort to various relocations and quite bizarre inspiration trips to push through the album.
Use Me certainly didn’t come easy as well. Lynn has confirmed in interviews that she had to go through hell to reach a mind-state which allowed her to finally take the credit for what she does and practice full control of the direction of the band (and her own life).
The restless battle with her own mind for the creative and personal liberation is also explained in part of the tracklist. Opening pieces Gimme A Minute and Dead Weight expose the issue with interesting metaphorical figures and additive sound build-up. This also leads to an explosive start of the whole record and allows the band to start on a clean slate.
Gimme A Minute kicks things off by clearly showcasing the journey of being directionless and confused. It also uses the catchy chorus to symbolize the need of time and space for growth.
Dead Weight continues this narrative with interesting contrasting verses leading to the realization of self-worth. Lynn finally stands her ground and faces the possible consequences of an eventual breakdown.
If I start cracking at the center, all this goes away
I’m staying numb to my feelings, dodge ’em like novocaine
My back is breaking from taking all of this dead weight
If we start cracking at the center, I won’t let it break
Hold it together through the weather, it’s my DNA
So sick of being your giver, throwing my soul away
Another song about pressure and self-inflicted stress is Good To Be Alive. The track is honest and highly relatable – the possibilities of feeling better and enjoying life contrasting with the reality of having to live through negativity and pain.
The rest of the tracklist can be credited to love in its various manifestations once again fueled by personal stories.
Death Of Me features some heavy additions to the overall pop-rock sound of Use Me. It also has addictive electronic breaks and a dancy singalong structure which makes it a very interesting song to look into.
Lyrically it deals with the fine line between love and toxicity – it exposes the fact the giving your heart to someone means you entrust your mental well-being as well.
‘Cause heaven knows what you do to me, yeah
Let you chain me up or set me free
You could suffocate or let me breathe, babe
Hallucinations, Old Wounds, Loveless, and January Rain are more of post-relationship oriented tracks. Hallucinations deals with not being able to let go of someone and getting caught up in a constant barrage of thoughts about them. The song makes the emotions come to life with a lot of old (mostly coming from White Noise) and new symbolism.
Old Wounds is another one of my favourites. It has a similar thematic but tells the story of aching to reconnect with someone you love but cannot be with at the moment.
I think I could love you ’til the day that you die
If you let me love you when the timing is right
And I’ve got nothing left to lose besides you
I’ve already lost you once, what more could you do?
It explores a complicated situation with hard-hitting lines and the classic “haunting” sound reaching its ultimate point in the outro – an amazing combination of screams and a touching instrumental.
One of the pieces that have a different structure than the rest of the album is Loveless – an emotional and heartfelt ballad-like track which might be interpreted in several ways. What we can say for sure is that it deals with fake love, manipulation, and the devastating consequences hinted in the title of the song – becoming loveless.
It might be addressed to a certain person in Lynn’s life but considering the heavy focus on duality and past lives (in the band’s discography), it might also be a clever remark towards Lynn’s own self-love and appreciation in the past.
January Rain is just as touching and emotional. It serves as a middle ground between the above-mentioned tracks and the rest of Use Me. The song deals with a past relationship which ended badly. It emphasizes that it is impossible to stop loving someone you truly connected with regardless of what happened in the past.
The entire lyrical structure is built upon certain memories used as symbols as well as vague strictly personal metaphors. It is a very intimate track using January rain as the main element of the described relationship. Filled with pain, heartache, and bitter-sweet memories the song somehow feels positive – it signals entering a better stage of life after struggling with something heavy for a long time
Wish You Well fits as a continuation of January Rain – it dwells on past lives and unique connections once again. The focus here is overcoming past pain and hurt by wishing well to the person in question.
Title track Use Me and Stay Gold are the two songs that show the more positive side of the entangling feeling of love. Use Me is a beautiful collaboration with 070 Shake and radiates affection and concern in the most impactful way possible.
It deals with wanting to comfort and support the person you love by letting them “use you” as support. It is sweet and intoxicating, just like the feeling of falling in love.
What makes the track special is 070 Shake’s contribution – great lyrical exchange between her and Lynn as well as faster pace RnB elements make the song very lively and different from the rest.
Stay Gold also expresses concern and affection but in a different light. It uses the fear of losing someone as the main element. It radiates anxiety and worry for the future of a relationship. Lynn playfully compares the current lover to the past ones – not wanting him/her to turn into another song lost in the sea of blurry faces.
The song is splendid in terms of lyrics and sound and is an absolutely addictive piece altogether – a great addition to the diverse but coherent tracklist of PVRIS’ best album yet.
Every new album by the band seems like their best work to me. Whether you agree or disagree if this is the case with Use Me I think we can’t deny it is one splendid record. One of the best for 2020, perhaps?
I found great satisfaction in observing the personal growth of the band and the progress they made in terms of sound and construction. Certainly giving me yet another reason to keep a close eye on them and hungrily wait for their next move.
What I am even more excited about is to see them perform Use Me live mixed in with the older tracks that never fail to make up for an unforgettable show.
You can buy me a coffee if you like my content