Turning infirmity into art
The American, Massachusetts-born rock band PVRIS released their third album, Use Me, this August. This album suggests the band’s gravitation towards dance style indie music and reflects the band protagonist Lynn Gunn’s personal tribulations that plagues her since the release of the band’s second album. Gunn was diagnosed with two autoimmune diseases, which greatly affected her vocals. She describes the act of getting on stage and performing as a new torment. The state of Gunn’s vocals was unpredictable, and the singer never knew exactly what she was set to battle with each performance. In addition to her newfound health issues, Gunn was still fighting her pernicious internal thoughts, and she brought this into the songwriting process of PVRIS’s new album as well. Use Me is a product of Lynn Gunn working almost entirely on her own.
The album as a whole has an air of spitefulness. Gunn begins the album with the track “Gimme a Minute,” the lyrics describing her combat with her vocal and mental difficulties. She sings of someone forcing her to sing when she is unable, saying: “You’ll never know how much it takes/ All the pain to fade away/ Where’d it go?/ Someone just ripped out my throat/ Told me to sing while I was choked.” “Dead Weight” follows with Gunn singing, “Throwing my soul away/ All give, no take.”
“Good to Be Alive” and “Wish You Well” bring forth heavy sarcasm, again suggesting Gunn’s poor mental state. Use Me also features music that speaks of love. “Stay Gold” expresses praying for a love that lasts. “Death of Me” brings more of a dance beat to a story of a love so strong. During “Loveless,” Gunn takes the tale of strong love and sings of rejecting it due to the harm that it is doing to her. “Old Wounds” and “January Rain” are written about lost feelings, and the pain that comes with realizing those feelings are not completely lost.
The dark pop presented in this album is well crafted and diverse, each track speaks for itself. The instrumentals featured on each track range, some softer and more lyrically driven while others up the beat and become songs to play on the dance floor. PVRIS claims to be focused on visual art and photography, evident in the music videos corresponding to Use Me. Each video features bold and compelling visuals that mean more than what is registered on the first watch.
PVRIS displays their multifaceted talents through their latest album, Gunn’s solo work proving itself to be extraordinary. Gunn describes being a female rock artist as daunting, and many times the role feels difficult to embody. Through Use Me, however, she displays a new sense of confidence that is visible in the brazen reveal of her personal hardships, and the art that she has created by facing them and sharing them with the world.