One of 2017’s most highly anticipated albums is finally here. The alt-rockers from PVRIS (pronounced ‘Paris’, but hailing from Lowell, Massachusetts USA) are released their second album All We Know Of Heaven, All We Need Of Hell into the wide world of music appreciators. After having the release date set back to August 25, the anticipation rose even further, with magazines in the alternative music scene keeping publishing articles and interviews with the female-fronted three-piece.
Work on the album has started in 2016, when lead singer Lynn Gunn posted an update that no less than 45 potential songs have been written for their follow-up to 2014’s debut album ‘White Noise’. Only ten tracks seem to have made it on the final cut, leaving the album a bit short. The album opens with the first single off the record, ‘Heaven’, released on April 30. The loud, screamy at times, yet always energetic PVRIS that prevailed on the debut album seems to have become a bit introverted and shy. I cannot help but wonder: Did PVRIS just become boring?
Second track ‘Half’ has a vibe that reminds yours truly of modern Balance and Composure: a bit more atmospheric and at times even ambient, without losing its rockness. ‘Half’ is a good attempt to get the album going, but only succeeds half. Three tracks in, I’m craving more – a good solid rock track that PVRIS became so well-known and loved for. ‘Anyone Else’ makes me hungrier than ever before: a bland and monotonous chorus that fails to deliver catchy hooks and reel me in. The track builds in power, but even a powerful crescendo at the end of the track is not able to save it.
PVRIS released ‘What’s Wrong’ as the second single of All We Know Of Heaven, All We Need Of Hell. And it’s quite the jam. After what is in my eyes a fairly weak start to the album, ‘What’s Wrong’ is a song with the power of old PVRIS with an extra maturity that shows growth and development. The three-piece band also discovered a new-found love for eclectic electronics, which adds another dimension to the track without losing integrity or power. Track five ‘Walk Alone’ also shares in this exploration of genre-bending. The album seems to slowly start redeeming itself halfway through with ‘Same Soul’, a track that got me a bit worried at first.
‘Walk Alone’ is not the most energetic track, especially not after ‘What’s Wrong’, and ‘Same Soul’ seems to head into the wrong way with its slow start. If the track was slow all the way through, this could have been a true disaster for the album, where the halfway point is usually a critical point for me where I decide to either keep listening or change tune. But the chorus in ‘Same Soul’ is surprising to say the least. Lynn Gunn opens up her vocal chords like never before and takes the track to a new level.
Sadly enough, the next track ‘Winter’ doesn’t follow the little cohesion that has been built up to this point and sets the album back. Whereas the previous tracks offered the perfect balance between high energy and melodic more quiet parts, ‘Winter’ harks back to the atmospheric sound from ‘Half’ but fails to deliver with the same conviction as the previous songs. ‘No Mercy’ is luckily there to save the day and breathe some life back into the album with a solid rock track that demands to become a strong staple of their live setlists.
With two songs to go I still haven’t fully made up my mind about how to feel about the album. I decide to postpone the ‘forming a general opinion’ part for seven more minutes and put on ‘Separate’, the second to last song. ‘Separate’ is more quiet than any other song on the album and could even be marked as a ballad, if we’re throwing labels around here. Yet I’m happy there’s no decline in energy in the overall progression, which very easily could have been the case after the powerhouse that is ‘No Mercy’. There is a time and place for mellow songs on albums and PVRIS seem to have realized that the second to last song is definitely a wise decision – but then I expect the album to go out with a bang. ‘Nola 1’ only partially lives up to this expectation. It is definitely not a bad track, but it is merely a song that does not offer any proper closure to the album in full. I could have used a bit more energy there, too.
As I take out my earphones, I sit back and think about what to think of the album. It’s definitely not a bad album, but since the expectations were so incredibly high, I cannot help but feel a tiny bit of disappointment. The album is a good collection of songs, with some outstanding ones (and some that appeal less to me – but hey, that’s taste), but it lacks an overall progression and cohesion. Maybe there will be a deluxe version in the future that features the full 45 songs that were written forAll We Know Of Heaven, All We Need Of Hell that will show a full sense of a clear concept, but until then I’ll be listening to these mere 10 tracks in random order. Great songs, mediocre album: but still very enjoyable.
PVRIS will be on tour for a good part of 2017. They are currently playing European festivals and will be doing several in-store performances and signings in the UK in support of the release ofAll We Know Of Heaven, All We Need Of Hell. In September and October they will tour the USA and Canada; in November they can be found in cities and venues across Europe and the UK. Tickets and dates can be found on their website.