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Album Review: All We Know Of Heaven, All We Need Of Hell

Album+Artwork+courtesy+of+Rise+Records
Album Artwork courtesy of Rise Records

Album Artwork courtesy of Rise Records

Album Artwork courtesy of Rise Records

Becca Turnis, Web Editor

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“I think we were cursed from the start…,” This is the first line of “Heaven”, the lead single and first track on “All We Know of Heaven, All We Need of Hell” from PVRIS (pronounced paris), an eclectic rock trio from Massachusetts.

The album as a whole focuses on frontwoman and songwriter Lynn Gunn’s struggle with depression and isolation, as well as the aftermath of a toxic relationship that Gunn was in for three years. This track references Gunn’s romantic partner emotionally draining her, and depriving her of happiness. This theme is continued in the third track “Anyone Else”.  When Gunn started writing this song, it was focused on love, blaming herself for the broken relationship and for leaving her partner alone. It was after she ended the relationship and realized its toxicity that she revisited this song and let her true emotions come out. Gunn’s dependence on her partner is referenced again in the fifth and ninth tracks, titled “Walk Alone” and “Separate”, and there’s a specific dig at her partner’s coldness in the seventh track, “Winter”. The fourth track “Same Soul” references Gunn’s lover trying to find another person similar to Gunn to be with. The eighth track, “No Mercy” is about Gunn’s emotions towards her relationship. Despite everything her partner put her through, she feels guilty for how things ended.

The other theme of this album, Gunn’s depression, comes into play early on in the second track, “Half”. The lyrics talk about how her sudden rise in fame has made her uncomfortable in her own body and how she struggles to even be present in her own life. The fourth track, “What’s Wrong” references her struggles with depression while the band was touring for their first album, “White Noise”, and the issues she dealt with during that era. The line, “Don’t need a metaphor for you to know I’m invisible” is referencing the extended metaphors used in the lyrics of “White Noise” that hid her true feelings. In this album, Gunn is no longer hiding behind metaphors. She’s telling us exactly how she feels. This song also talks about how despite her increased public image, she refuses to “sell her soul” or abandon her morals. These ideas are also prominent in the 10th track, “Nola 1”.

Musically, this album is a slight departure from “White Noise”. While still based on rock influences with heavy keyboards, this album (which was actually recorded in an allegedly haunted church, according to Alternative Press) puts more emphasis on guitarist Alex Babinski and studio drummer Chris Karmada. Bassist Brian MacDonald’s contributions are less pronounced but still present. He particularly shines in the eighth track “No Mercy”. Throughout the album Gunn’s delivery is powerful and ethereal. It’s no surprise why she won Best Vocalist at this past summer’s Alternative Press Music Awards. The album also features three beautiful harp solos from featured musician Mikaela Davis.

Lyrically, there are multiple references to PVRIS’s first album. Several songs reference ghosts, mirrors, and fire, all of which were lyrical motifs and coincidentally, track titles on “White Noise”. It was a nice callback and it connects the two albums very well.

All in all, I loved this album and its messages about dealing with these struggles. I applaud Gunn’s vulnerability and I can’t wait to see what she and the rest of PVRIS do next.

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Album Review: All We Know Of Heaven, All We Need Of Hell