Monday, August 5th, 2019

Pvris – Death of Me

But the synths live on…


Katherine St Asaph: Pvris, like countless Paramores and Hey Violets before them, inevitably transform more and more into dance-pop (and presumably into pop-pop eventually; they just signed to Warner). The bass burbles on the verse suggest that this time Billie Eilish was somewhere in that decision matrix; the strut suggests that Prince was too, or at least “Hella Good.” But, crucially, “Death of Me” actually does the big strobing Ladytron chorus, instead of wimping out. It could stand to do it some more — there’s a bit much going on in the track that isn’t that. But I’ll always take overstuffed over underdone.

Will Adams: “Death of Me” pulls Pvris in a more synth-heavy direction, but the lack of guitars doesn’t make their formula any less effective. Lynn Gunn outlines the chorus in a whisper before turning it into a roar; the music follows suit, creating a force that destroys everything in its path.

Iain Mew: This feels like a case of warring instincts. The song is strong enough and blank enough that it’s equally easy to imagine a version leaning more on the hardness of their previous stuff succeeding or a properly whizz-bang synth-pop version flying. As it is, the visions just about cancel each other out.

Iris Xie: I’m so tired of songs that are basically not willing to admit that they’re risk-free, featherlight dance songs for emo kids. If you are looking for a song to cry on the dance floor to, this song will not satisfy your need for that type of catharsis. However, my 2015-2016 self would have loved playing this while doing laundry, because it does have many appealing pop elements, like a subdued cry about “being crazy” and “falling,” and a bridge that kicks up the energy with percussion and an improved groove, which is slightly more stirring than the rest of the song and hints at a little more emotion. The noise is too precise here and refined though, and the redundant heaven/hell/death imagery is accessible to the point of anonymity. Many chances for adding edge were not taken here and would have resulted in a more expressive and interesting listening experience, but absolutely none of those opportunities were taken.

Alfred Soto: One of those singles to which I have to listen on loop to get a hold on yet still eludes me. Anonymity is a powerful and empowering mode: it creates the impression that anyone can lead a band and feel these emotions. But from the echo to the breaks, nothing on “Death of Me” convinces me that the people involved have felt the title’s devastation.

Joshua Minsoo Kim: Forces upon the listener a big, blown-out chorus to mask the fact its verses are dead weight. Even the chorus feels a bit underwhelming — nonspecific lyrics that hint at grandiose emotions, its hollow shouting just frustratingly unconvincing.

Hannah Jocelyn: Something I admired about Pvris’s previous record All We Know of Heaven, All We Need of Hell was its balance of pop polish and raw chaos — even when the lyrics and melodies became repetitive, the songs themselves would often change forms midway through. This follow-up is certainly repetitive, but with Lars Stalfors’ characteristically slick production, “Death of Me” just feels like a pop version of what the band did before with weaker songwriting. It sounds like Halsey doing a PVRIS song, when that probably should be the other way around. Stalfors was clearly the wrong choice, but there aren’t a lot of rock producers they could work with unless they wanted to recruit Will Yip and get an 8.0. That would still lead to something new for them beyond “the same band but synthier.”

Will Rivitz: As I’ve just entered my mid-twenties as of this past Friday, allow me to be a cantankerous old man for a moment. Upon the release of “Death of Me,” as happened with the release of previous lead singles “St. Patrick” in 2014 and “Heaven” in 2017, I found myself pulled into a couple-day period during which my consisted of about one part new track to five parts previous Pvris material, hardly a second artist within those scrobbles. Despite their back catalogue growing necessarily larger each cycle, I nevertheless continue to find myself centering those five-parts-past listens around the group’s debut self-titled EP, a release which has been scrubbed from all legal channels online for many years now but nevertheless remains (and likely will remain) my favorite release from a formerly stringently post-hardcore band now at arm’s distance from that genre moniker. Within that EP, whose songs still live on via illicit fan uploads on SoundCloud and YouTube, resides an almost completely different band, one marked more by tap-guitar solos than icy keyboards, more by neutron-star collaborations with North-East suburbia stalwarts like Lions Lions and Love, Robot than effortlessly serene howlers in which the band alone remained in the driver’s seat. The EP, as with the accompanying visual material, is in full color; everything the band’s done since, the red sheen of “Death of Me” notwithstanding, has been fully black and white. I don’t really know if there’s anything useful about any of this to be writ larger than myself, but as music is as ever deeply personal I’ve come to conclude 6 things: First, my music taste will forever be what it was at 17, and the more removed I am from those years the more fully I learn to accept that about myself. Second, I’ll still love everything this goddamn band puts out, as I am in way, way, way over my head here, but I’m no longer sure I’m stanning for the sake of stanning or because I genuinely appreciate their musical evolution, because I am a stubborn child who wishes everything I love could remain as it always was even as I look back on the person I was one, two, seven years ago and say “I’m so glad I’m not that anymore.” Third, I don’t think the stan-for-stan’s-sake argument applies here, and I am always fully here for any stripped-back bass over straight-ahead drums, because I am a simple man whose tastes fundamentally remain as they always are even as parts change. Fourth, I realize I’m edging closer and closer each day to the cranky rock critic who wishes things are as they were in their youth, and that scares me. Fifth, that EP will still exist as long as I keep my high school hard drive, and I need to understand that having complex feelings about a band’s evolution are a) both completely valid, no matter now contradictory; and b) utterly useless when I’ll still buy tickets to see this group as soon as they go on sale. Sixth, every so often, I remember that I interviewed Lynn Gunn as an 18-year-old during Warped Tour 2014, and it remains the most painfully awkward interview I’ve ever conducted, and I deeply appreciate having lost the phone on which that audio was recorded. I’m glad I’m not eighteen anymore.

Reader average: [4.5] (2 votes)

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