Hailing from one of the largest cities in Massachusetts, it was an auspicious day for everyone when PVRIS decided to form. The band was originally called Operation Guillotine, and featured a completely different line-up – until only Lyndsey Gunnulfsen, Alex Babinski and Brian Macdonald were left.
The three friends then went on to create what is now called PVRIS, with the release of their first ever EP. Entitled Paris, this EP became the stepping stone for the trio that would eventually lead them out of the country and into the wide world beyond.
It wasn’t until a year later, however, in 2014, when PVRIS finally recorded and released their first ever studio album, White Noise.
White Noise consists of commercial hits, such as “My House” and “St. Patrick”, as well as a couple of non-single tracks that earned the band more fame than the actual singles. It was their debut album, and became their ticket to stardom within the music scene. Touring across the country and – eventually – abroad finally became a possibility.
As can be expected, PVRIS also won several awards for the debut, for the way it was constructed as a concept album: White Noisefeatured a music video for each song, every video eventually coming together to form a complete story. Three years after the debut, PVRIS have finally released their second studio album, All We Know Of Heaven, All We Need Of Hell.
Of course, the band hasn’t been completely idle in those three years – they re-released White Noise as a deluxe edition with some new songs, and have been touring the world ever since. With a full schedule on their laps, PVRIS are now ready for round two.
The first single that was released for All We Know Heaven, All We Need Of Hell was “Heaven”. It premiered in April, four months before the album was expected to come out. It’s a song that sets the scene of the album, as it also happens to be the first song on the track listing.
The repeated chorus of “you took my heart/you took my heaven away” coupled with the first verse, “I think we were cursed from the start/second I let you into my heart“, perfectly paints a picture of star-crossed lovers – but this time, the relationship was sabotaged from within, not from without, a theme that seems to be pretty prevalent throughout the rest of the songs.
“Same Soul” is another song that follows the same theme and structure – the chorus claims “I’m just a body that you used to know / I’m just somebody that you used to know” and goes a step further and mentions the possibility of love in different lifetimes: “I think we’ve loved a thousand lives / I try to find you every time/searching for those same wide eyes”. The concept of lost love is common. The contrast between softer verses followed by Lyndsey screaming the chorus perfectly displays the grief present in the lyrics.
The second single, “What’s Wrong”, is decidedly angrier and takes a swing in a completely different direction. Here, instead of singing about losing love, PVRIS writes about losing oneself.
The song itself starts with a simple litany of “this skin don’t feel like home” and leads into a chorus that repeatedly intones “don’t need a metaphor for you to know I’m miserable“. The bridge breaks off into a mantra of “no, I never sold my soul“, letting us know exactly what the song is about.
The earlier theme of a relationship burning out from within is revisited in “Winter”, a song that starts a lot softer and eventually turns angry and fast. It starts off rather bluntly with “all we did was suffer / you were just physical touch/not necessarily love” and leads into a fiery chorus of “can you burn a fire in my flesh? / ’cause your love’s so cold I see my breath”.
The band’s progression from White Noise to All We Know Of Heaven, All We Need Of Hell is a gradual and subtle thing. There is obvious growth in both musical and lyrical content, but PVRIS still managed to maintain a sound that can be called ‘theirs’ and that has them dominating the music scene in a way that is both remarkable and innovative.
It is especially important to note their success and fame with regards to the lead vocalist, Lyndsey Gunnulfsen, being a gay woman. Hers – and the band’s – is a message that echoes and will hopefully go on to inspire and motivate young women, especially those that are part of the LGBTQ community and at times have felt threatened by their own existence.
Words by Qurat-ul-anne Sikander