Editors’ Notes For PVRIS frontwoman Lynn Gunn, her band’s third album Use Me marked “a line in the sand.” Sonically, that meant stepping away from the expansive rock that defined the Massachussetts trio’s previous two albums and embracing altogether more hook-heavy, dark-edged electro-pop. “This is where we’re at now, and we’re not going back from here,” says the singer of PVRIS’ new dawn, which Gunn honed with US producer and Paper Route frontman JT Daly. “You can hop on or you can hop off. I follow my taste and my interests, and I never want to compromise that for nostalgia or for the comfort of preserving old expectations.” But Use Me also represented another clear-cut change: the moment Gunn—for years reluctant to take full credit for PVRIS’ output—allowed herself to step out of the shadows and into the foreground. “The process of this album was a very singular, solo endeavor,” she says. “Things were naturally happening that way anyway, but we never really had the direct conversation about it. Everyone was down for this, because it’s a healthier, easier method. Finally being like, ‘This is actually how it’s operated,’ and having that conversation has been a really positive shift for us. It allows more freedom.”

It’s not hard to see why Use Me catalyzed that new direction: This is an intensely personal record on which Gunn documents—and exhales—the turbulence of her life during the years leading up to its creation. “It was a really overwhelming time,” says the singer of the period after the release of 2017’s All We Know of Heaven, All We Need of Hell and into 2019, when she began to write Use Me. That turmoil is spread across the record, from the pent-up ferocity of opener “Gimme a Minute”—a shuddering anthem which sees Gunn desperately placing a protective layer around herself—to “Good to Be Alive,” on which the singer ruminates on her ill health, sarcastically wondering, “Is this body even mine? Feels good to be alive but I hate my life.” But amid all that restless energy, there’s also release; as the album reaches its close, Gunn sails into noticeably calmer waters. That shift you can hear, she says, was “internal healing. It’s funny, because while we were making the album, I still felt I was holding on to a lot of things. The chaos was just very, very present. But speaking about it now, I feel healed from a lot of it.” Here, let Gunn walk you through the exhilarating Use Me, one song at a time.

Gimme a Minute
“This song feels like a really good start, especially if you’re looking at the album as a storyline. There was a lot of change during this album: personal changes, mental changes, physical changes. And I had been diagnosed with an autoimmune disease as well as Crohn's disease around this time, so it's navigating a lot of health factors within that chaos. I also have a hard time setting boundaries and asking for help or time off. The song is a cry out and just a catharsis of what I really wanted to say, which was just, ‘Give me a minute. I need a minute. I need to process what has happened in the last few years. I need to process what is happening to my body. I need to process what's happening to my heart.’ It was just a lot. Sonically, the song emulates that stirring stress and anxiety, and it eventually leads to this explosive breakdown and the ultimate freak-out.”

Dead Weight
“Again, this was about reflecting on being a people-pleaser and always putting others’ feelings and expectations before mine. The song is about wanting to shed those habits and patterns. But also about shedding people who don't understand that and won't allow you to set those boundaries—old friendships, old relationships, old anything that don’t allow you to be your best self. The dynamic of the song really ties into the sonics; they reflect this dance that I feel I am always having. I always want to be straightforward and transparent with the people around me, but I always want to do that with love and do that in a way that's not going to upset anybody. But sometimes the truth is you need to just set that boundary and do it unapologetically and not worry about it.”

Stay Gold
“‘Stay Gold’ just flew out—it was a really quick song to write. The message of the song is wanting to write a song for somebody, but also not wanting to, because when you write a song about somebody, they're immortalized. They can be consumed by a listener in whatever way they want, whether that's to put them up on this grand pedestal or to tear them down. And this person just felt so special that I didn't even want to give the chance for either of those things to happen. I just wanted to keep them safe. I didn’t want to let their greatness die as we would play the song over and over. So, ironically, I ended up writing a song about them, which is the song about not wanting to write a song about them.”

Good to Be Alive
“The line in this—‘It feels good to be alive but I hate my life’—is supposed to be a little cheeky and a little bit funny. But it’s also supposed to be completely honest. JT had set up a little miniature writing camp with some awesome writers. And there was one day we were just working alone, and during this time, I was having a really bad flare-up in my stomach and in my body. I just wasn't feeling good, and it was really hard to just show up to the session and be on and be present. I was feeling a lot of the weight of those health issues, which was ironic because mentally I was in excellent health—the best place I've been in my adult life and in our career. What I think music is really great for is delivering the deep, honest, and maybe difficult message, but if you can make someone dance to it or sing along to it, it just feels so much better.”

Death of Me
“This is about that fine line you dance right when you are interested in somebody and you realize you really care about them and like them. And you have to surrender in a way, or at least for me. I'm go hard or go home. If I'm going to commit to somebody, I'm fully committed and ready to just dive in (that’s definitely a good indication of the no boundaries thing). It’s about the risk you take when you are connecting with somebody and putting it all out there. Sonically, it's similar to ‘Good to Be Alive,’ where I feel like if you just read the lyrics straight out, it can sound pretty dark and maybe not the most positive. I knew I would need somebody who could bring that perfect element of a little bit dark, but a little bit fun, and I chose Daniel Armbruster from Joywave. He helped like really capture that dark energy, but also a little bit of a cheeky wink in there.”

Hallucinations
“It's funny, I didn't think the song would make the album. I was reading this book at the time about hallucinating, and it just kind of felt like I was living in a weird little dream. There were a lot of areas of my life where I was kind of contemplating what was real and what was something I was thinking up or projecting, and trying to identify and really pin those things down. The book really lined up with how I felt at that point in my life. A fan actually gave me that book, too, so whoever it was, I owe them a huge thank you.”

Old Wounds
“I think this is the most directly I've ever written about love. It feels like a love song—it’s about that all-or-nothing mentality and that willingness to get hurt again from somebody the second time around. I wrote it about three or four years ago. I had this really short-term but really special connection with somebody, and it just ended very abruptly. And there was a time when they had come back just to talk about it and for us to process something, and I remember one of my friends just said to me, ‘Don’t open up old wounds, don't do it.’ I was like, ‘That's a good lyric, that's a good song idea.’ At the time I was staying in a hotel in New York and I just went back to my room and blurted the song out in a day. And I had the demo for a really long time; I just wanted to finish it and wanted to get it out. I showed it to JT one day and a couple of people on our team, and everybody was like, ‘We need to finish this.’ I was like, ‘Thank you. I thought so.’ I'm definitely a hopeless romantic, and this captures that.”

Loveless
“When I wrote this, I was dealing with a breakup and I just didn’t want to write about it. I didn’t want to give it any more attention or energy, I guess. But I knew, deep down, that I needed to write about it and get it out. So I very reluctantly wrote about it. But I think making the song allowed for that final release and that final acceptance and just surrendering to it for a moment. Once that energy was pulled out, it allowed for this breath, which I think the end of the album has. It feels lighter, it doesn't feel as chaotic, even if there is still a little bit of sadness. The song is about admitting that you've been defeated and admitting that somebody hurt you and that you're giving them this salute. Like, ‘You hurt me, dude, you hurt me real bad.’ I feel like this is the first song where I've just fully laid that out there. Something about admitting that takes the power back.”

January Rain
“A much more retrospective reflection on that same situation. JT and I were just finishing everything and finishing tracking, and just kind of getting everything together. But I woke up one morning with the vocal melody for this song and the chorus in my head and I just jumped to my computer immediately. I wrote the track and got the melody before it ran away and I brought it to him. I didn’t have the lyrics and I didn’t know what I was feeling. But ‘January rain’ just kept popping up. It was looking back on that relationship a year later and reflecting on what it all felt like, which was it was really special to me. But which, very early on, I knew was doomed. I just remember there was one week where it just rained and rained and rained and rained, and that's when that feeling felt the heaviest.”

Use Me
“There's harp in here, plus strings. This was one of the songs, along with 'Stay Gold,' which we were fighting really hard to get onto the album. I was watching Euphoria and I just really loved the soundtrack for it. I loved the dynamics between Rue and Jules and just the concept of using a person as your escape or your medicine—whether it's good or bad. You can see it as a really healthy thing or unhealthy, it just depends on the situation. I tend to get very singular and solo in my own life. I almost wrote it as a love letter or a love song from someone else's perspective, and the dialogue or message that I wish someone would be able to speak to me and sing to me. So it was like this weird backwards love song and kind of putting that into the universe. Maybe one day somebody will be able to be that for me and be that person to lean on. But there’s a double-sided energy to it. Because you could almost look at the song as a kind of funny, passive-aggressive, ironic message of just saying, ‘Just go ahead, use me. Do whatever you need.’ It’s very empowered. There's also an empowering component to it as well, if you're looking at it from that angle.”

Wish You Well
“I never want to burn bridges with people. I never want people to be hurt. Even if a situation was toxic or wasn't healthy, I still always just want the best for somebody. But sometimes you need to let things go and you got to let certain people go. I feel it's right to have this at the end of the album. It just really captures that no matter what somebody's put me through, I'm not going to hold that against you. I'm always going to hope that you can grow from this and heal. But I also love a good four on the floor, really groovy bass, fun song. So it was the first time we've really gotten to make something like that. It had to be on the album.”

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