2020 has been an incredible year for music so far, at least in the pop/indie circles I’m a part of. From Halsey to Dua Lipa to Lady Gaga to BTS to Jeremy Zucker to Flo Milli to Megan Thee Stallion to Taylor Swift (and beyond), so many artists have put out amazing, or even their best projects this year. But at the end of the day, PVRIS’ third album was my most highly anticipated album of the year by a landslide. Ever since the album’s lead single dropped last July, every single leading up to the album’s release was incredible, and even after two delays, my anticipation stayed sky high right up to the album’s release in August.
Tl;dr: It’s good. It’s REALLY good.
The big thing that sets “Use Me” apart from its predecessors is undoubtedly frontwoman Lynn Gunn’s public ownership of the project from the get go. Handling songwriting, instrumentation, and production, “Use Me” makes it clear that this is Gunn’s world and we’re just living it. And with that comes an album that’s both intensely personal and intensely focused, bringing all the power you’d come to expect from a PVRIS album with the evolution that comes with each new release.
Saying the singles still hold up is an understatement. The three returning tracks from 2019’s Hallucinations EP—”Death of Me,” “Hallucinations,” and “Old Wounds”—pack dark energy in three entirely different forms, and the two additional singles released this spring—”Dead Weight” and “Gimme a Minute”—have only grown on me with time, especially the latter.
But if there’s one thing I’ve learned from the many album releases I’ve looked forward to over the years, it’s that the singles don’t necessarily reflect the quality of the rest of the album. You can listen to the singles and have an idea of where the album is going to go, but when the album actually comes out, you can be dead wrong, for better or for worse. And in this case, the singles set my expectations high and the rest of the album blew them out of the water.
“Stay Gold” flips the album’s breakup narrative on its head under a driving beat and fuzzy synths. “Good to Be Alive” is one of the greatest lyrical flexes on the album. “Loveless” is a surprise acoustic break from the rest of the album’s refusal to stop moving. “January Rain” slows down in an entirely different way, introspective and minimal. The album’s title track, featuring 070 Shake, is incredible beyond words and deserves a listen if you don’t listen to anything else on the album. And “Wish You Well” closes out the album with a satisfying sense of closure.
Every song on this album deserves its place there, all with snappy and precise production and Gunn’s lyrical prowess. I find myself obsessing over a new song every week, listening to it over and over again until I move on to the next one, and so the cycle continues. I’ve added these songs to countless playlists in the month since the album came out. And I know recency bias is a thing, but even after two incredible albums, these songs immediately shot to the top of my favorites in PVRIS’ discography, and I’m pretty sure they’ll stay there for a long time.