Album Review: PVRIS, “All We Know Of Heaven, All We Need Of Hell”
by Ellena Whitfield
After months of mysterious promos, confusing song-teasers, and an entire Instagram re-branding, alternative pop-rockers PVRIS dropped their second full-length album, All We Know Of Heaven, All We Need Of Hell. The female-fronted band has made their return to the pop-rock scene after a long break following the band’s first album, White Noise, which was released back in 2014.
However, was the album worth the three-year wait? To me, the answer is debatable.
There are a lot of things PVRIS did right with All We Know Of Heaven, All We Need Of Hell (AWKOHAWNOH). A lot of the tracks on this record were huge hits for me. The band took a few risks that worked out in their favor, as they surprised me with brand new vibes while still captivating me the way they did with their White Noise album.
The first single off AWKOHAWNOH, “Heaven”, is a great first release in my opinion. The song is mysterious, intense, and generated a lot of curiosity for me the first time I listened to it. It made me wonder just what could’ve happened to spark such a dark song, and whether or not the rest of the album would follow in its somber footsteps.
The second song released from AWKOHAWNOH, “What’s Wrong” is my favorite single from the album. It’s upbeat, edgy, and a great reassurance that PVRIS are still sticking to their roots in one way or another.
Other great tracks on the album include “Anyone Else”, “Same Soul”, and “Nola 1”. “Anyone Else” is definitely my favorite song off AWKOHAWNOH. The simple, angelic vibe it captures in the first half of the song is something new for PVRIS, and they pulled it off beautifully. Lead singer Lynn Gunn’s vocals are displayed in a very gentle way this time around, showing a new side of her range that differs from the heavy ballads that dominated White Noise.
And then the song completely shifts gears around the 3-minute mark. The beat changes, the mood drops, and Gunn’s vocals soar into what sounds like a completely new song with an edgier twist to it. At the very end, “Anyone Else” takes yet another 180-degree turn as what sounds like a harp fades the song into nothing. In terms of changing up their sound, “Anyone Else” was a huge step forward for the band. The song is absolutely stunning.
“Same Soul” and “Nola 1” are the other tracks off AWKOHAWNOH that immediately stuck out to me. They are the more upbeat songs on the album, and again display Gunn’s voice beautifully as she sings about old lovers, change, and finally a reference to “What’s Wrong” that concludes the whole album. These two songs are both musically and lyrically clever, and in addition to “Anyone Else”, are my favorites.
But alas, there were some misses on this record as well, and thus my hope for it dropped quite a few notches as I continued to listen through the whole thing. A few of the only 10 songs sound very similar to one another, which is always a turn-off in my book. My least favorite single from this album was “Half”, and the fourth song released, “Winter” didn’t wow me either, simply because nothing stood out to me.
Overall, I think PVRIS just went a little too soft on this record. It lacked a lot of the things PVRIS came out notorious for on their last album, like their heavy guitar riffs, melodramatic beats, and shady lyrics. I appreciate the band’s efforts to try something new, and although they were able to pull it off in many songs throughout the record, I do believe they should’ve stuck to what they knew because they did it so well before.
I realize it is almost impossible for anybody to live three whole years and not undergo some sort of change, so I support PVRIS’ decision to take a different approach on this record. I respect bands that take risks and are open to growth and experimentation. While I think this change worked for most of the record, there were some points at which I wasn’t feeling this new vibe as much as I had hoped I would, and that in turn disappointed me slightly. Still, I am excited to dive back into this album for a second listen, and I can’t wait to see what PVRIS does next with both their sound and their image as a band.