Review Summary: Dark, and damn near perfect.White Noise
couldn’t have set it up any better.
It was a brighter light for certain, but still darker than most within the usually perkier electronic rock genre the record inhabits, and Lyndsey Gunnulfsen made damn sure of that. Conceptualised initially under the working title, Haunt
, White Noise
sees Gunnulfsen bear her heart for all to see, poignantly inspired by ghosts and spirituality, and including the very real frustrations of her own sexuality. These all come together to gorgeously, hauntingly infect the album, and renders White Noise
an incredibly captivating affair, deluxe edition or not. Resistance at completely letting loose is sometimes apparent on White Noise
; a constrictive self-restraint seems to linger throughout the record, but it is also as much apparent as the obvious urge to want to seize you by the neck, and scream directly into your face.
”Oh, you’re killing me right now. I think it’s time you burn me down.”
Sophomore effort, All We Know of Heaven, All We Need of Hell
, shares much of what came before, but a difference in perspective and looming presence of a brutal cynicality is vastly evident from the very beginning of the record. Sure, Gunnulfsen still offers her heart to be seen, but instead of another willing glimpse into her psyche, everything she has to say seems to spill out violently, splitting at the seams and plunging forward uncontrollably. There’s something wrong here. The mood is murkier; the dying glow from what came before is almost completely gone now, and the white noise is fading to black.
”Don’t need you to tell me I’m so cynical; quit being so over-skeptical.
Yes, there is something wrong here. It’s you
”I think we were cursed from the start.
That sounds accurate enough. Things aren’t exactly beginning optimistically when ‘Heaven’ opens All We Know of Heaven, All We Need of Hell
, and Gunnulfsen’s aching croon sets the mood perfectly. ‘Heaven’ is hardly the façade of positivity that the title may have you believe; it’s about as far from it as you could possibly imagine, and, within 20 seconds of opening the record, a blast of vibrant reverbed vocals and explosive pop-rock instrumentation rears its head. Gunnulfsen’s furious delivery of ”you took my heaven away”
rips through the mix, and any resistance that may have lingered from the previous record is firmly pushed into the past. The track peaks in a massive crescendo of overlapped vocals before suddenly fading, bleeding softly into ‘Half’; a delayed guitar laced with chorus, gently picking up from where ‘Heaven’ left off, before charging forward into one of the most enthralling tracks the record has to offer. It’s heavily enhanced by some fantastic lead guitar work from Alex Babinski, and Gunnulfsen’s searing vocal delivery once again hugely highlights the track, lyrically focusing on an inability to rid herself of an internal torment, and overcome an overwhelming decision. Lyndsey Gunnulfsen’s ability to captivate and capture a listener has been evident since even before White Noise
, but the desperation that seems to fuel her performance on All We Know of Heaven, All We Need of Hell
pushes things completely over the edge;
”One foot in the grave, the other on the ground. I can’t process what I’m feeling now.”
Following suit from the introductory tracks ‘Heaven’ and ‘Half’, aesthetically the album’s soundscape remains wonderfully vivid throughout the entire record. Considering the overall morbidity lingering over most of the songs, such as 'Winter' and 'Seperate', some clear influence that comes from recording in a supposedly haunted church is certainly evident; everything is intoxicatingly morose, even at the best of times. ‘What’s Wrong’s opening “oh woah”
s could be initially misinterpreted as a more uplifting addition to the album’s repertoire, but the chorus infected guitar line has returned to a quietly spectacular effect, and once Gunnulfsen softly laments ”two years gone, came back as some bones and so cynical”
the track dreamily follows suit what most tracks reflect. It all sounds so frustratingly exasperated
, a weary build from tired to thunderous when Gunnulfsen’s composure finally snaps, screaming ”no, I never sold my soul.
” Heaviest cut on the record, 'No Mercy', features a similar performance, geared toward a far more rock orientated sound, reminiscent of earlier PVRIS releases, and Gunnulfsen once again completely letting loose.
It’s chaotically furious, and beautifully so.
Displaying a little more of the All We Know of Heaven...
side to things, 'Anyone Else' shines as a much lighter track instrumentally, yet lyrically the song mirrors much of the battle between vulnerability and self assurtion that 'What's Wrong' embodies so brilliantly, with repeated chants of an enraged "I don't belong to anyone else"
before peaking suddenly into an enchanting closing harp segment. While also featuring some refreshing acoustic work, similar track 'Same Soul' also stands as a slightly more upbeat track on the album, but remains in keeping with the record's overall tone and utilizes some mezmerizing synthesizer work to enhance the chorus.
Summarizing the gorgeous cocophony that All We Know of Heaven, All We Need of Hell
so fantastically stands as is easy enough from a first glance, but some truly spectacular performances are to be found here, and are deserving of so much more care and attention. A great amount of heart
has been poured into the record, and PVRIS’ investment in the album’s core themes is also just as easily evident from the band’s approach to the visual style surrounding the release of the record; White Noise
’s music videos and accompanying artwork were hardly colourful endeavours, but All We Know of Heaven, All We Need of Hell
is plunged into a far more pessimistic environment. Throughout a series of simplistic ‘visualette’s alongside the few music videos currently released, the band members are placed into theatrically capricious scenes that gradually worsen as the videos continue, somewhat disturbing to behold at times. The easiest and simplest reflection of one of the album’s significant themes is seen through the album artwork, featuring the band member's all mirrored on the surface of a nearby lake, and it is exactly that; reflection.
”Take the mirror from the wall so I can’t see myself at all;
Don’t wanna see another damn inch of my skull.
If All We Know of Heaven, All We Need of Hell
offers anything, it’s simple catharsis in visceral ferocity, reflecting on what came before and a desperation to be rid of it.
It's dark, beautiful, and damn near perfect.