A sophomore album, for many bands, can be a make-or-break deal. If the band’s debut does exceptionally well, there’s a pressure to meet or top expectations for the follow-up. There becomes a question of whether or not they will crack under that much pressure, or rise above and defy the odds. For Lowell, Massachusetts electrorock trio, PVRIS, the latter was definitely the case for their sophomore album, All We Know of Heaven, All We Need of Hell, which was released today via Rise Records. On the heels of the success of their debut album, White Noise, the band saw touring opportunities with Thirty Seconds to Mars, Bring Me the Horizon and just began a run with Canadian electropop artist, LIGHTS. Not only that but they landed a main stage spot on the Vans Warped tour and several high chart positions (#3 in US Billboard Vinyl Sales, #6 on Billboard Alternative Charts, #6 on Billboard Independent Albums, etc). Success doesn’t come without its problems, though. With the release of AWKOHAWNOH, we see vocalist Lynn Gunn at her most vulnerable, lyrically, opening up about her struggles with depression and overcoming dark times (even seeking therapy in the midst of it all.)
Always striving for attention to detail, the band decided to push the album back in favor of some production tweaks, about a month before the official release. Opting to work with Blake Harnage again seemed to be a no-brainer and goes to show what results can come out of a release, when a band and their producer are on the same page. This album, as a whole, almost completely drops the rock “edge” that White Noise offered, in favor of a more electronic/dark pop sound. “Heaven,” the album opener and lead single, brings about a similar sound to the band’s sophomore single, “My House,” and features a catchy, soaring chorus that will get stuck in the listener’s head. Don’t expect that sound to be reproduced much, though, as this band has favored experimentation from the get-go. With the release of this track, we saw a dark, black & white visual that showed Gunn in a number of compromising positions, indicative that she was at the end of her rope or unsure of herself.
One of my favorite tracks on the album is “Half,” for the things that it represents, lyrically. My take is that it deals heavily with how it feels to be constantly put down by one you love, hitting rock bottom and being unsure of where to go next… or if you even want to go on. The layered vocal harmonies on this track are something that have haunted my dreams, multiple times, since I first heard it. This track is beautiful but tells a tragic story of someone crying out for help, something that I deeply resonate with.
The experimentation factor is probably most evident in a track like “Walk Alone.” The pre-chorus of this track calls to mind a cool, island sound, there’s a lot of echoed vocals and even some dubstep influence. If it wasn’t so wonderfully executed, this track wouldn’t fit on the album at all. I especially love the way that Gunn layered the keyboards under the entire track, fading them into a harp section at the end. They compliment one-another in a way that I never expected.
It’s clear to me that writing this album was incredibly therapeutic for the band, yet took them to a lot of darker places in the process. Every facet of this album shows a more mature, seasoned version of PVRIS and speaks to the level of professionalism and talent that they possess. All We Know of Heaven, All We Need of Hell is the band’s most ambitious, exploratory and awe-inspiring work to date. It goes to show what a proper break between album cycles can do for a band, taking the time to do some soul-searching and coming back into things full swing. So get ready to step into a deeper, darker world with the release of AWKOHAWNOH, out today via Rise Records! Check out the latest video for “Winter,” as well as a full album stream below.
Purchase AWKOHAWNOH here: http://smarturl.it/PVRISAllWe