Review: PVRIS – White Noise

PVRIS

Something that got lost in the shuffle during the flood of “Rise-core” over the past few years is that Rise Records is much more than a one-trick pony. Sure, the face of the label is recognizable as the nu-wave metalcore powerhouse, but it’s hard to overlook solid releases from emo comebackers The Early November and Further Seems Forever or respectable punk bands like Man Overboard and Hot Water Music.

Now, the label appears to have another card up its sleeve in the form of synthpop act PVRIS (pronounced Paris). The trio recently released their debut album White Noise in conjunction with Rise imprint Velocity Records, and it’s a doozy.

PVRIS had been on the tip of many a tongue, assuming you knew how to pronounce their name, since early this summer when a scattering of songs hit the web. Full of pulsing bass and synthesizers, tracks like “St. Patrick” and “My House” seemed to warn of an oncoming onslaught of crushing EDM pop. White Noise is undoubtedly poppy, but it’s even better, and more absorbing, than expected.

The album kicks off with the dark scorch of “Smoke”, a track that lays the groundwork for what’s to come on White Noise. Is it rock? Pop? Electronic? Exactly. The song slowly builds on a glossy, moody soundscape before vocalist Lyndsey Gunnelfsen takes the reigns, dropping the razor sharp lines, “I feel a fire in the back of my throat / So let’s get covered in flames and play some games with the smoke”.

The band’s sound is just familiar enough to pull you in, but there’s a freshness here, too. It’s all pushed over the top by Gunnelfsen’s vocal work, which transitions from an angry pierce to quiet vulnerability to silky smooth, sometimes multiple times within a given song.

“St. Patrick” and “My House” follow the opener, the former being a peppy, synth-heavy dance song while the latter is powerhouse pop. Surprise ensues after the second chorus on “My House” during a crushing breakdown that features Gunnelfsen’s angry cry of “Haven’t you heard – I’m not yours anymore”. Conventions be damned as the song’s carefree bounce materializes as genuine frustration and determination.

“Fire” and “Let Them In” follow suit, bounding forward with explosive choruses and an undeniable beat, but here you find yourself dancing away the hurt instead of reveling in celebration. It’s not that there aren’t times of joy on White Noise, but those fleeting moments come in the aftermath of pain, which truthfully makes them that much sweeter.

On the flip side are tracks like the delicate, electronic “Eyelids” and the weightless, guitar-driven “Ghosts”. “Eyelids” serves as a shadowy lullaby, with Gunnelfsen playing with a beautiful upper register during the song’s wispy chorus. “Ghosts” the closest the band comes to pop rock, wisely requires the listener wait until after the second chorus before releasing the song’s contagious chorus.

The rest of White Noise lives between these two worlds, combining a mild pop sound with sinister electronics to create something uniquely their own. PVRIS seems to fall outside of the bounds of scene restrictions while consistently stiff-arming a tendency towards anything remotely radio-friendly. This is both refreshing and alarming, given that the band could easily cross over into the world of popular music if they so decided, which likely isn’t out of the question.

White Noise is anything but. The missteps are few and can be easily chalked up to a young band experimenting with sound as they realize their identity. The album moves easily through 10 tracks with little filler and engaging transitions. Rise Records would do well to push PVRIS in front of as many listeners as possible, maybe even converting a few of the metalcore faithful.

If White Noise serves as a taste of what’s to come in this scene, the future is an exciting one, indeed.

4/5

by Kiel Hauck

kiel_hauckKiel Hauck is the editor in chief at It’s All Dead. Over the past decade, he has been a contributor for multiple online and print publications and was most recently an editor at PopMatters. Kiel currently resides in Indianapolis, IN with his wife and their imaginary pet, Hand Dog. You can follow him on Twitter.

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