You find yourself lost, navigating a seemingly endless desert landscape, facing tumultuous winds and climbing sand dunes. The harsh environment conditions are suffocating and you’re uncertain how much longer you’ll be able to hold out on your quest.
Suddenly, the sky opens up and before you can have a moment to process what’s happening, an outpouring of precipitation falls from the heavens – drenching everything in its wake, showering you and the desert in the liquid element…
The third full-length from PVRIS feels like a cleansing rainfall, washing away the pollution of doubt, insecurity, and turmoil; Use Me is a hypnotic LP that delves deeper into electro-pop territory, incorporating more pop and EDM components and presenting their most honest narrative yet. The album picks up from where the band left off with 2019’s Hallucinations EP, which initially set the foundation for this new direction, before cranking the dial up to eleven. Ambient vibes, layered guitar riffs, and sparkling synths intricately intertwine with somber, resonating lyricism.
Wasting no time, the fiery opening track “Gimme a Minute” kicks everything off as frontwoman Lynn Gunn snarls the line:
“Someone just ripped out my throat. / Told me to sing while I was choked.”
The song highlights the health struggles she’s been facing the last few years, a diagnosis of autoimmune conditions Ankylosing Spondylitis and Crohn’s disease — bringing these issues to center stage. All of the visuals for the album singles possess a commonality: a red color scheme and concept revolving around snakes. The video for “Gimme a Minute” features a multitude of abstract imagery, special effects, and even a tiny Lynn jamming out with her guitar inside a mouth (Yes, you heard me right.. A mouth. It’s quite a plot twist!)
“Dead Weight” packs an emotional punch with high energy and hard-hitting lyrics (“taking wings off a goddess”) that emphasize the need to let go of the things that threaten to weigh you down. The video for the song gets its message across with an odd yet fun approach, showcasing Lynn driving a hearse and later dancing amongst a horde of zombies in a disco club with flashing red lights.
The endearing “Stay Gold” expresses the need for preservation — holding on to a good memory with a hope that it will forever remain untarnished. “Good to Be Alive” changes the pacing as Lynn brazenly shares her internal battles,
“Tell myself that I’m fine while I’m looking for a sign.
Is this body even mine? //
Feels good to be alive but I hate my life.”
The alluring “Death of Me” makes a declaration of an all-consuming love, while simultaneously acknowledging the risk involved with this unquenchable flame. The accompanying visuals complement the seductiveness of the track, exhibiting dark cult vibes, subliminal themes, and references to the occult and divination.
“Hallucinations” is an earworm that will embed itself in your brain and play over and over again on repeat. The music video for the track is quintessential PVRIS, featuring trippy artistic visuals — consisting of physical attributes, burials, and a desert landscape — images that steadily flash across the screen.
“Old Wounds” teleports you to another dimension, as Lynn wears all of her emotions on her sleeve, narrating a fading relationship that’s barely hanging by a thread:
“And I’ve got nothing left to lose, besides you. I’ve already lost you once, what more could you do?”
The video portrays Lynn tangled up in vines, and scene cuts to a couple, later seen placing crowns on each other – a representation of how they view their majestic love.
“Loveless” is the stand out track on this record with its organic delivery, consisting of only one vulnerable Lynn Gunn and a desolate acoustic guitar as she earnestly pours her heart out:
“I gave you tears when you wanted emotion. /
Said it was love, so I cried an ocean for you.
You’re probably fine now and not even hurtin’. /
You’re free as a bird while I carry the burden for you.
If this is what love is, then I guess I’m loveless.”
“January Rain” is another deep cut, while the sultry “Use Me” — featuring a guest appearance from hip hop artist 070 Shake — casts its enchanting spell. The infectious title track is composed of beautifully lush tones and a stirring vocal performance that place listeners in a hypnotic trance. Cinematic visuals reveal Lynn suspended in the air, wrapped in bondage; the gritty vision pans to another scene of her residing in a tank filled with red water. Both the song and video transcends a deeper meaning beyond what’s simply lying on the surface; a double-sided affirmation that expresses the feeling of being tied down and drained as you shrink yourself down to please others. However, the music is a cathartic experience that can help and heal you through the process.
“Wish You Well” closes the album on a high note, with a message about cutting necessary ties and sending well wishes, even to the ones who don’t deserve it – revealing Lynn’s tenacious spirit and how much she has truly conquered.
This latest chapter further expands the story of PVRIS with a collection of songs that reign with pure authenticity and marks the arrival of an imaginative coming of age for Lynn. Lynn vibrantly shines in this new era, revealing a bright and shiny aura of newfound confidence that was heavily concealed before. The fierce frontwoman faces her demons head on; she finally allows herself to accept credit and steps up to take her rightful place, fully embracing who she is as the driving force of PVRIS.
My favorite tracks are: “Good to Be Alive,” “Hallucinations,” “Old Wounds,” “Loveless,” and “Use Me.”
PVRIS has crafted a captivating, dark pop radiant gem — encompassing elements from their debut White Noise and sophomore effort All We Know of Heaven, All We Need of Hell — but this time, opening up more candourly than ever before and venturing to experiment further with their electronic sound. This results in a production that is their most striking and cohesive work to date. Use Me transports you on an ethereal vision-inducing journey that marks a new beginning for the band, sonically shifting from black and white to vivid technicolor.