One of the certainties of writing year-end retrospectives—or decade-end ones, if you happen to share my particular brand of lunacy—is that, as soon as you’ve published your hard-wrought work, you’ll find several albums that warrant inclusion on your list but that, for one reason or another, you missed. Maybe you had meant to listen to an album and never got around to it, maybe you’ve only learned about a band from their new work and sifting through their back catalog takes you back in time, or maybe, as was my situation with PVRIS’s 2019 EP Hallucinations, a band that you enjoy released a record that, somehow, you simply never heard about until months after its release.
My delinquency has been rewarded with a somber, earnest EP that takes PVRIS a step away from the explosive bombast of their biggest hits like, “You and I” and “What’s Wrong” without sacrificing any of the band’s power. An extensive collection of synths and Lynn Gunn’s potent vocals remain at the forefront but the band’s formerly raucous energy has been focused inward, creating a seething intensity unlike any of PVRIS’s prior releases. Lyrically, Gunn wades through the life cycle of personal relationships, with “Things Are Better” even making lyrical reference to Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain” before the dourly-titled “Old Wounds” ends the 20-minute EP with what qualifies as hope on a record like this: “They say don’t open old wounds, but I’m going to … I think I could love you.” In the EP’s final moments, Gunn unleashes a cathartic wail and the pulsing, JT Daly-produced album fades to a close, having spent every ounce of itself.
I may have come to Hallucinations late, but I’m glad I found it.