REVIEW: Hallucinations EP by PVRIS
Never ones to repeat themselves, PVRIS is reborn again on the Hallucinations EP. Shelving the wistful moodiness that has defined their sound, the electro-pop three-piece returns to the anthemic vigor of tracks like “St. Patrick” and “Fire” that made their debut so meteoric.
Released on Oct. 25 and produced by JT Daly, the five-track EP sees PVRIS flexing new muscles on their first release with Reprise Records. While PVRIS has never shied away from incorporating electronics into their sound, Hallucinations sees them dive headfirst into the pop end of the pop-rock pool to mixed reviews. Some fans pushed back against the move but frontwoman Lynn Gunn maintains that pop has always had its place in PVRIS’ sound.
The titular track is helmed by Gunn, who is credited with every instrument performed. A thrumming, dance floor bop, “Hallucinations” is exhibit A in how PVRIS can incorporate their dark sensibility with vibrant electronics. “Death of Me” goes hand-in-hand with the opening track, mature and wanton in a way PVRIS has never explored before. Gunn’s lyrics are coy, shelving insecurity and angst for polished confidence.
The visuals work just as hard as the music at showing the band’s growth. Leaving their trademark black and white visuals behind, PVRIS leaps into the unknown with screaming color. The music video for “Death of Me” sees the band teetering on the edge of falling into a cult while “Hallucinations” shelves the artful conceptuality of their past for bizarre, kaleidoscopic visuals ranging from the biblical to the extraterrestrial.
Where Hallucinations loses some traction is on “Nightmare” and “Things Are Better” which lack lyrically and sonically compared to the rest of the EP. Gunn’s strength as a songwriter has always been her ability to pull enchanting imagery out of the mundane. However, these two tracks err toward the beaten path, shelving swooping metaphors for safer, relatable narratives. “Nightmare” taps into some of the punch of “My House,” a production-heavy affair that where Gunn circles around a past lover who has come back to haunt her. “Things Are Better” is a piano ballad that, though morose, is lyrically optimistic, an absolute foil to their melancholic sophomore album, All We Know of Heaven, All We Need of Hell.
“Old Wounds” is where the EP truly shines. Written before the release of All We Know of Heaven, All We Need of Hell, the final track on Hallucinations is a seamless mesh of PVRIS’ discography, channeling the compelling narrative threads of White Noise with the the downcast mood of All We Know of Heaven, All We Need of Hell. A lament written about wanting to fall back into the ill-fated relationship of “Nightmare,” “Old Wounds” closes out the EP with screaming, echoing rage that passes as quickly as it comes and is sure to inspire more than just a few replays.
Hallucinations may not be a full length album but PVRIS knows its fans and it knows exactly how to whet their appetite until their next major release. Sonically, the EP is a balanced mixture of both of their albums while still charting progress into their next sound. Hopefully, 2020 will bring us even more PVRIS music to get excited about.