Review Summary: We're not close, but I still taste you.
It is with very little exaggeration that I state the following; were it not due to an ever enduring adoration of music, I would not be the person I am today.
This is hardly uncommon, when considered critically. Music is – after all – an extremely potent influence upon the society that surrounds us, and what makes my own case unique likely proves paper thin on a grander level. That being said, it is
entirely what makes me… me. And every once in a while, and always completely unexpected, I am reminded of exactly why I fall in love with music again, and again.
While raised on what my parents would appropriately summarise as ”proper music”
(my mother gravitated towards Guns N’ Roses and Iron Maiden, while my father preferred the likes of Fleetwood Mac and Deep Purple), the most potent memories of musical self-discovery I can recall are usually those drenched in self-reflection. From Daughter’s stunningly textured indie rock If You Leave
proving intoxicatingly sombre, through to A Perfect Circle’s Stone and Echo
and TT’s LoveLaws
unexpectedly accompanying my very own cautionary struggle with alcoholism, certain releases throughout the years inevitably serve as symbolic memorial bookends, and PVRIS’ All We Know of Heaven, All We Need of Hell
was no different.
Similar to what proves Akira Yamaoka’s Silent Hill 2 OST
so desperately alluring, All We Know of Heaven, All We Need of Hell
was a body of work that stood perfectly representative of simple, raw emotion
. While Lyndsey Gunnulfsen’s aching vocals and appropriately reflective lyricism did the necessary talking, instrumentally Alex Babinski and Brian MacDonald assisted in contextualising what speaks to the deepest within the listener, and for the person I was in 2017 this was everything I needed it to be. Be it the fact that ‘Winter’ was haunting, ‘What’s Wrong’ snarled exquisitely, or that ‘Half’ was simply (and undoubtedly) f**king beautiful, All We Know of Heaven, All We Need of Hell
was a brilliantly unapologetic example of what lies beneath the deepest surface – dark and damn near perfect. And so, suitably, what should follow are Hallucinations
Reutilising the gorgeous harp of All We Know of Heaven, All We Need of Hell
’s ‘Walk Alone’, ‘Hallucinations’ builds gently with a softly delivered lament of Gunnulfsen’s ”falling backwards – what comes after the words you said?”
, but this is quickly given way to a snarling, electronically infused chorus that hits home with all the force of a punch to the face. ”Hallucinations, you occupy – my imagination’s running wild. New sensations, sweet temptations. I can’t tell what’s real and what’s…”
, and in a singular, visceral moment PVRIS’ newest outing is slammed forward unapologetically. From the pulsating bassline, or the haunting synthesiser lead that occupies the bridge, ‘Hallucinations’ opens the titular EP with a promise to deliver what made All We Know of Heaven, All We Know of Hell
so poignantly memorable. And it does, it really, really
Treading arguably familiar steps to ‘Hallucinations’ instrumentally, ‘Nightmare’ follows confidently with choppy, bass-heavy synthesisers hardly unusual compared to PVRIS’ previous outings, but Gunnufsen’s signature self-depreciative lyrical direction instead turns its attention to one akin to ‘My House’, victimising an outside influence causing harm physically and/or emotionally; ”f**k your California dreams – get away from me. Said you hated this city, but I don’t believe. Call me up someday, when you’re not high off your face, and I’ll be your baby – but now I’m your nightmare.”
Thematically, ‘Nightmare’ deftly handles a self-destructive relationship with a confidence likely drawing only from bitter experience, and leads comfortably (or not) into ‘Death of Me’. Indeed, with the pained laments of ”this love looks like a loaded gun; a noose loaded around my neck – or a sweet poison
the idea of love hardly seems thematically positive or even a source of comfort, and instead PVRIS do what they seemingly do best. Delivering a soundscape that relishes in visceral, uncomfortable electronics and overbearing bass tones, Gunnulfsen’s vocals are wonderfully at home here, offering exactly what made ‘Half’ so exquisitely captivating.
Changing pace, ‘Things Are Better’ instrumentally relents momentarily where the pounding electronics have so far kept pace, and instead Gunnulfsen is paired with a gentle piano and harp accompaniment. While lyrically it hardly seems much of an improvement, improvement is
present emotionally and ‘Things Are Better’ likely stands as one of the most positive outings of PVRIS’ career in some time; ”sorry I broke the chain – hate to tell you things are better.”
Of course, and in truly keeping with PVRIS’ form, ‘Things Are Better’ seemingly precedes what presents the most harrowing ‘Old Wounds’. Spanning little under five minutes, yet seemingly stretching further through beautifully navigating bass-heavy undercurrents, fuzzy guitar lines and gorgeously melodic inclusions of the ever-present harp, ‘Old Wounds’ final explosive scream (on behalf of the ever captivating Lyndsey Gunnulfsen) is one that poignantly lasts through to Hallucinations
While those that hoped for a fully-fledged third PVRIS album are likely to be disappointed by the appearance of the seemingly “lesser” Hallucinations
EP, this shallow disappointment is one that entirely deserves disregarding. Following the exquisite body of work that All We Know of Heaven, All We Need of Hell
is neither an easy nor light-hearted accomplishment, and as such Hallucinations
feels wonderfully appropriate. From the snarling electronic backbone that drives ‘Hallucinations’, through to ‘Death of Me’s hauntingly captivating soundscape and entices lovingly with a simple, yet sombre promise ”baby, you could be the death of me.”
feels real, and brutally accessible. Perhaps it’s the hallucinogenic allure of a love of music that simply will not relent
, or some vivid singular element of my upbringing that remains persistent in adulthood, but instead of gravitating towards music more easily digested this
is what truly keeps my attention. Sure, this is hardly an opinion devoid of personal bias, but in the face of any criticism Hallucinations
stands exceptionally proud as the next step in PVRIS’ portfolio.
”Close my eyes, I can’t embrace you.
We’re not close, but I still taste you.”