A friend of mine told me to listen to Pvris (pronounced Paris) about a year ago, when they had only one full length album released.
It was called White Noise. I listened, and liked some of the tunes, so I added them to a playlist. Eventually, the few songs I tagged as “good” faded from my playlist and I deleted them from lack of listening. When I saw Pvris’s new album, All You Know of Heaven, All You Need of Hell, I was piqued, and attributed their earlier fading to my own business and short attention span. It turns out, Pvris is just the type of band who tends to fade regardless.
Lead singer Lynn Gunn has an intriguing voice, at least to the superficial ear. It is not that her voice itself is superficial, but if you are half-listening, devoting a soft majority of your attention to the music, she sounds likeable, in the sort of superficial way modern singers present what they think is likeable (think The Voice). Gunn ascends and descends scales like an EKG, and evokes a sort of airy sprite persona through her mellifluous yet unpredictable tone. She’s a bit like Hayley Williams. Pvris has a proclivity for snare almost as much as Paramore used to — although no one can have quite the affection for snare as Zac Farro does. It seems the band recognized Gunn as the fulcrum on which their success depends. Their producer, too, seemed to recognize this, and throughout much of their new album, Gunn’s voice trumpets out of a void, an erumpent emergence that makes her affectation one of soothing pleasure.
Unfortunately for the band, Gunn’s electricity, although fairly infectious, is overpowered by the band’s calculated product. The album evokes a big-bucks Vivo aesthetic, a mainstream music video that takes place on a cracked desert plain — like something out of Mad Max Fury Road — with Gunn wailing amidst gliding panoramic shots of the expansive background. The nagging thought in my head throughout the entire listen was: this is produced, produced by someone who knows how to market a band and optimize his profit. The degrees of separation between what the band might actually sound like and what their economically-minded producer wants us to hear was too much to overcome, and it doesn’t even seem like there was much of a struggle on the part of the band to resist acquiescence. Tracks like “Half,” “No Mercy” and “Winter” begin to sound the same, with an identical sort of popularized drumming and trite vocals spruced up by Gunn’s innately attractive voice.
If there is something positive to take away from this album and the band as a whole, it’s that their songs do sound ephemerally good, and songs like “Same Soul,” and “Heaven,” have some genuine staying power. But unfortunately, most are songs you will only like in jest, as I originally did, but that eventually become a case of burning somewhat brightly, for only a very short time. It’s not as if Pvris is an unpleasant group to listen to — they’re not. They’re just positioned in a sort of way that isn’t particularly profound or unique. That said, the beauty of a band like Pvris is that you won’t be sad when you stop listening to them, because you won’t remember what they sounded like enough to cry.