For local rookies and veteran players alike, a year around Boston’s music scene can yield dividends in creativity and popularity, on record and onstage. Our 2016 class of largely female-fronted bands deserves that merit and momentum.
Lynn Gunn kept singing as she seemingly high-fived every fan that security pulled over the stage barricade at Royale during the first of Pvris’ two sold-out shows in June. Those headlining gigs marked a milestone for Lowell’s dark, electronic rockers, who’ve built their audience on the undercard.
“We’ve never really played to a crowd of our own,” says the frontwoman of Pvris (pronounced “Paris” but altered to avoid the same spelling as a Lindsey Buckingham side project). “It seems abrupt, like a crazy, drastic change, but it’s something that’s been building over time as we’ve been touring and opening up for other bands.”
During their four-year rise, Gunn and bandmates Alex Babinski (guitar, keyboards) and Brian MacDonald (bass, keyboards) have gone from playing Rocko’s Sports Bar & Grill in Manchester, N.H., to appearing on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, joining last summer’s Warped Tour and opening for Fall Out Boy in arenas this winter. But when they released their 2014 debut, White Noise, it took time for the album to carve a path. For starters, the group’s dark, punk-edged electro-pop was a departure from the aggressive rock of its early incarnation.
“I’d wanted to incorporate electronic elements for a while,” Gunn says. “But the [metal/punk] scene we came from had a very specific, dialed-in sound.” She credits White Noise producer Blake Harnage for urging Pvris to break expectations.
The resulting album draws from a dark period after the end of a relationship. Gunn wrote introverted songs with anthemic resolve, from the title track, inspired by the film Poltergeist, to “You and I,” a riff on relationship woes that’s one of two tracks added to the album’s deluxe edition released in April. “When you’re depressed, the things that you’re feeling and the issues you have, they’re not tangible, so they’re all invisible,” Gunn says. “That’s how the whole ghost element came into play.”
Now facing larger stages, she notes a very visible transformation when all eyes aim her way. “I’m kind of timid when talking,” Gunn says, but when she performs, “Some kind of switch just flips on me, and I’m something completely different.”