Coming from Boston, home of the Lemonheads and the Pixies, and based on the evidence of their two recent singles, PVRIS have melody in their pedigree, but, like the Google friendly stylings of their name, this is a version for the digital age. As is the modern way, they've gone from inception to hype in the blink of an eye; from an opening slot on last year's Warped tour to the high praise of the blogosphere in the time it takes most people to decide on a summer holiday destination. Hailed in some quarters as saviours of quality crossover pop; signed to Rise Records and with Blake Harnage of VersaEmerge at the production helm, it seemed unlikely but worth a shot.
Smoke creeps around in a Brownian motion befitting of its title, an interweaving of guitars and keys tightly bound with lead singer Lyndsey's belting vocal that showed initial promise and lingered in the ears. Despite the onslaught of that voice, there was a delicateness to the mix that was intriguing. It made what followed even more bizarre; St Patrick and My House set out their stall as whacking chart botherers, to the extent that with a few tweaks and slight stripping back of the guitars, they might almost be Ariana Grande tracks. Great songs, but for a band that appears to want to be The XX, it seemed an ill judged move to make so early on in their debut. In the context of what came before and after they made little sense. What followed was a mainly forgettable set of interchangeable guitar led songs with the vaguest of nods to synth sensibilities. By the end, I felt like I'd spent thirty minutes being angsted at by a drunk teenager that recently discovered the power of a good swear.
The true issue with this album lies in the marketing. Given the preamble, I really wanted to love this album, but the problem is that, regardless of what the press release might say, they're not pop, or at least not the genre-spanning altpop electro dream the market is in need of. They lack the infectiousness of a Tegan&Sara, they playfulness of Dragonette or the crossover cool of AlunaGeorge. PVRIS are pop by default rather than consciously so; in the way that Paramore or My Chemical Romance are; because they lack the grit to be called anything else. There are brief moments of brilliance; Holy builds slices of pulsing beats that hang in the air, for once, the vocals toned down, richer for their sparseness; but it sounds out of place.
Ultimately, it's an exercise in unoriginality masquerading as something new and different, and, like the emporer's new clothes, it's nakedly obvious.
Words - Angi Strafford
Released Nov 3rd
Pre order on iTunes