How PVRIS founded a new era in alt-pop

Written by Bianca Davino on 9th May, 2018
How PVRIS founded a new era in alt-pop

At the turning point of the decade, a new era of indie pop emerged. Acts like Lorde, The 1975 and Sky Ferreira began to usher in an era of alternative music that took the nuances of indie, the saccharine nature of pop hooks and drenched them in melancholic synths. The sound proved perfect for festival settings, sentimental Tumblr edits and teen movie soundtracks. It was dark, angsty and parallelled the ethos of mid-00s emo – music that was painstakingly sombre, yet danceable and fun simultaneously.

When PVRIS burst onto the scene in 2012, they embraced this idea wholly, however, the world quickly caught on that they were ready to do things a little differently. It was immediately recognisable the band were taking the sound to it’s darkest crevices, it’s most chilling corners and it’s highest levels of catchy.

Since then, the band have found themselves at the heart of multiple scenes – they’ve managed to carve a new era in alt-pop, without compromising their connection to the heavy music scene.  PVRIS have managed to appeal to both worlds – there aren’t many bands who can claim to have dominated the stages of Warped Tour, win over crowds at Coachella, perform on nationally aired late-night TV yet still maintain a healthy position on the Rise Records roster.

PVRIS, in every respect, is a holistic artistic entity, not simply a band. Meaning and inspiration flow through everything the band release, with recurring themes popping up in their imagery, visuals and lyrics, all aided by their pulsating and atmospheric sound. Altogether, this is why PVRIS have garnered their rep as an unstoppable force, no matter where they’re placed.

For frontwoman Lynn Gunn, this has proved to be a point of both accomplishment and frustration. “In many ways, it’s been a double-edged sword but also it’s allowed us to be a “chameleon”  with whatever festival or tour we’ve been on,” she said.

“In other ways, it’s kind of limited us because people sometimes don’t know where to place us and I think human instinct is to try to put a label on something or give it an identity.”

“Especially with radio – some stations will say it’s too rock, some stations will say it’s too pop, so nobody plays us. Just overall it’s been a great advantage but sometimes it does get a little frustrating.”

Gunn is undeniably one of modern music’s most powerful voices. Her vocals tread between shattering rock growls and subtle and understated emotional runs heightening the band’s signature sense of light and shade.

On White Noise in 2014, listeners got a taste for the bands knack for soaring electric blankets, chilling sonic textures and industrial style guitars. On 2016’s All We Know Of Heaven, All We Need Of Hell, the band truly came into their own – wearing their post-rock influences on their sleeves, just as heavily as their emo and pop worship.

“All of us have a very diverse music taste, but the common loop is that we all love atmospheric music and something that’ll transport you somewhere else, but still has a little pop sensibility,” described Lynn. 

“One of our favourite records is Waves by Moving Mountains and the boys love Ben Howard and Explosions In The Sky, just really vibey atmospheric music.”

Much like their dark-indie predecessors, PVRIS are instantly recognisable for their deeply moving and mysterious aesthetic. Symbolism and imagery permeate their albums, imagery and even each member’s social media posts. It’s undeniably created a  cult-like following amongst their fan base, who cling to every whisper they spill. 

“From early stages, all of us are pretty passionate about digital photography and visual art – I was actually supposed to go to art school – we’re pretty visually inspired as a band, so it’s only right to sort of include that in our output as a band. It’s always kind of naturally bled into what we’re doing, I really love that we have the ability to do that because it adds another dimension to the band.”

On All We Know Of Heaven, All We Need Of Hell the band sought to delve deeper into their visual passions, Lynn explained the band looked towards Victorian imagery to inspire the album, a record born very much out of circumstance and surroundings.

“For AWKOH I got really inspired by Victorian imagery and architecture, but it was a side passion because I think that time period visually when paired with rock bands, can get skewed towards something you wouldn’t want to be, I feel like it can hold a very heavy goth connotation.”

“Our video director helped us find that middle ground between modern and Victorian imagery hybrid. We recorded in a studio form the 1900s and in a very industrial time – it was a product of the atmosphere we were in as well. I think we found a pretty cool sweet spot in the middle.”

Having toured the world, PVRIS are bringing their live show to Australia, headlining for the very first time. The last time the band were in the country, the band opened for The Amity Affliction, an Aussie metalcore staple, transfixing rambunctious crowds. Despite the gloom, Lynn is looking forward to finding peace in Australian nature. 

“I’m hoping the weather will be nice, I’m obsessed to going to really nice parks and being out in nature”

PVRIS 2018 Australian Tour

Wednesday, 13th June

The Gov, Adelaide

Tickets: Live Nation

Friday, 15th June

Metro Theatre, Sydney

Tickets: Live Nation

Saturday, 16th June

The Triffid, Brisbane

Tickets: Live Nation

Sunday, 17th June

170 Russell, Melbourne

Tickets: Live Nation

The article was originally published on Don't Bore Us