PVRIS - All We Know of Heaven, All We Need of Hell
PVRIS, the pop/rock group that took the world by surprise with their debut record White Noise in 2014, are back with their sophomore record All We Know of Heaven, All We Need of Hell. Interestingly, the band for some reason decided to release half the tracks as singles, starting with the intro “Heaven” and ending with the third track, “Anyone Else.” Having heard half of the album ruins most of the first listen.
It’s easy to tell from “Heaven” that the focus of the lyrical content is Lyndsey Gunnulfsen’s breakup with her longtime girlfriend and her emotional downward spiral. Musically, the song,like most of the record, incorporates a lot of ambient, acapella background vocals that give the album a fragile, ghostly presence. “Half” is truly something special. I didn’t quite realize it upon my first time listening to the song but now it stands up as one of my favorites on the record. There’s something about the track that makes it pop, and maybe it's the mildly shoegazey instrumental during the verses and the background “oh na na” vocals from Lynn herself. It really adds structure and emotion to the track, especially as they fade gently out for the softer and more emotional verse. “Anyone Else” speaks volumes to me thanks to a recent breakup. I can feel this song in my bones. “What’s Wrong” marks another one of the singles that didn’t speak to me all that much at first, but that’s one of the wonders of All We Know of Heaven: the album is a story that hits close to home, a technique PVRIS have always excelled at. “I don’t need a metaphor for you to know I’m miserable” really was the first line in the album to actually reach out and grab me as a listener, communicating so much in so little. “Walk Alone” represents a more pop oriented side of their music with a really upbeat chorus contrasting some deeply depressive verses.
"Same Soul” opens the second half perfectly, but is unfortunately followed by two of the album's only mediocre songs. “Winter” has those trademark PVRIS moments, but it’s easily outdone by almost every other track on this record. “No Mercy” is easily my least favorite song on the album, which is not to say it’s a bad track, but I find the chorus weird and almost off-putting. It’s really upbeat and fast like “Fire” from White Noise, but it does seem to fall unfortunately short for one of the only really rock-oriented tracks on the record. The short “There’s blood in the water” pre-chorus picks the song back up before it’s almost destroyed by the chorus shortly after. Fortunately, we're back to the good stuff with “Separate,” which is easily the best song the record and follows it immediately. The more projected sound and range Lynn showcases on this track perfectly harmonize with the drums, and the chorus sends goosebumps down my arms every time I listen to it. I’m more than happy that “Seperate” didn’t wind up as a single as it’s one of the best surprises on the record. “Nola 1” is a more upbeat song to end the album on a high note, making for a truly fitting outro.
If there’s one thing I learned from All We Know of Heaven, All We Need of Hell, it’s that I’m still very much in love with every single thing PVRIS does. This band are only going to get bigger thanks to this record. Make sure to catch them touring North America this fall with Lights and pick up a copy, as this album will wind up in my top ten record of the year for sure.