In 2020, the world was ensnared by the looming threat of the mysterious coronavirus pandemic. Many chose to isolate in an attempt to protect themselves and their loved ones; others took to the streets and let their voices ring. Lynn Gunn, A.K.A the person behind PVRIS, did not waver amidst the confusion as she released her third studio album Use Me in August 2020.
I found myself yearning for every possible interpretation of Use Me during those chaotic months. Now, almost three years later, I have the chance to showcase Lynn Gunn’s eclectic mastery on her new album Evergreen. It’s truly a full circle moment that aligns with Gunn’s message—Evergreen is, “a call to empower women and all silenced individuals to find strength in their voices and break free from the shackles [of social media] and the burdens it imposes on society.”
Lynn Gunn has been in the industry for a little over a decade and has produced a sound that is unapologetically her own. L.G. can be quoted saying, “It’s not my job as an artist to cater to certain trends or people’s nostalgia. I have to follow what I feel compelled to follow and do my best to uncover what truths and messages I can find within that. I have to always embrace the risks and trust that each stage of my music’s life will resonate with whoever it’s meant to.”
Do what you love and don’t look back, loosely translated.
Evergreen is the embodiment of this sentiment. Notably diverse in presentation and production, Gunn’s fourth studio album emerges like a beast from a cage. The album emanates a controlled frenzy of emotions, including self-assuredness and acceptance. While many tracks include spinequaking baselines, the message is cradled maturely. Yes, it’s easy to get lost in the likes of “Animal” and “Hype Zombies,” but Gunn never lets her audience stray too far from the album’s fundamentals.
This deeply introspective dance begins with “I Don’t Wanna Do This Anymore”—an earnest and heartfelt confession that embodies the feeling of losing one’s head, as illustrated by the album’s artwork. It is important to note that Gunn’s decapitated head is being held by someone else, and the expression on her face shows that she’s not amused by this loop. It’s a call for anyone that feels controlled, and the message is simple—get out. The grunginess and stiff drumline exacerbate the tension of this introductory track and works as Gunn’s olive branch. She shouts that these emotions are common, and that her audience should embrace them rather than fear them.
“Good Enemy,” “Goddess,” and “Animal” are the high-tempo bangers that helped tease Evergreen and sent my expectations into the stratosphere. The gutsy “Good Enemy” relies on countless metaphors to highlight the battle waging in Gunn’s mind: “Regrets looking like a vulture,” “Holding a knife by the blade,” and the act of “Fighting to the grave.” “Goddess” dials the energy from 10 to an 8 but still packs a provocative punch, oozing personality and confidence as L.G. slams that she’s a “motherfucking brand.”
“Animal,” as previously mentioned, allows listeners to break free from their respective cages. The chorus of this track acts as the perfect synopsis for the entire project, as Gunn bellows: “Don’t tell me that you know me / quit acting like you own me.” This is a bouncy track that lets the beasts roam free.
The fifth track on this behemoth of an album—“Hype Zombies”—has officially solidified itself as my new hype track. This gem bleeds the feeling of a post-apocalyptic nightmare. The bassline crescendos and pauses and the result is absolutely hypnotic. It draws the image of a zombie rising from the ground, ready to seek revenge on the person responsible for graving it. Gunn lets the instrumentals haunt and linger on this piece, only delivering one verse and a brief chorus. I admittedly had to pause and listen to this one at least five times in a row before continuing the playthrough. Gunn’s declaration of war is, by far, my favorite track of hers to date and on par with the greats. Watch your back, as L.G. promises, “When it’s time / I’ll be back like a zombie.”
My first impression of “Take My Nirvana” was that it had the machine-like sound of early 2000s Meteora—which makes sense—this track was co-produced by Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park. The chorus on this track is top notch and catchy as fuck; another win for Gunn. It’s a 6-0 sweep.
The bloody confessions and emotional explosions take a back seat starting with “Senti-Mental,” a groover breath that offers clear words of encouragement. The placement of this track is superb as listeners go from the hype-inducing kick ass barrage from the first six tracks to a more mature, nurturing sound. At one point, I thought Gunn shifted her message, but it’s important to note that she lofts, “If I were sentimental.” Translation: she isn’t.
This tonal shift continues throughout the journeyful “Anywhere But Here,” the introspective “Headlights,” and the reminiscent “Love is A…” The dual-toned project will definitely attract a myriad of listeners or at the very least, will help fans expunge all of their various emotions.
“Anywhere But Here” sounds infectious and intoxicating. It almost feels like Gunn is influenced by some extraneous source here, and it feels like a slight deviation from the kick ass mentality established prior. My first instinct was that this song is a flashback to the brighter blips of the failed moments of yesteryear. Gunn and co. snapped on the production cues here.
“Headlights” and “Love is A…” trickle together, extending the flashback, thus allowing the audience into Gunn’s mind. Listeners should be left questioning what forces pressed her to declare war.
We snap back to reality on “Evergreen.” Gunn has been vocal about the meaning of this album’s title as well as this track’s title, saying that the word is defined as fresh, timeless, and renewing. It’s no secret that Gunn is constantly improving her skills and sound; she accomplishes this feat seemingly naturally.
Overall, Evergreen balances six instrumentally astonishing scream-’em-out bangers with five deeply introspective and reflective pieces. This album is truly anti-formula and anti-instant gratification, as is the goal of Gunn. These two things frustrate the seasoned artist and producer as she has expressed in various interviews.
Gunn’s message is simple: everyone can and should take a stand against the challenges they face. Her work offers two equally viable strategies to doing so—crash through and break free of the shackles that chain you or sit back, analyze the situation and craft a plan that allows your strengths to shine brightly.
According to Gunn, “We do ourselves a disservice by restricting one another to these metaphorical cages.” Dear reader, it’s time to break free from yours.
Evergreen is out tomorrow.