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BLUSH

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The tight-knit trio began when Harris and Baxter began making what they dubbed “country-friend techno” together in 2017. One of their first songs was born from Harris dictating her dreams to her new bandmate and their first show, at night called Narcissistic Exhibitionism at The Five Bells pub in New Cross, took place just two weeks after they met. The night was curated by Harris and featured painting, sculpture and photography upstairs, and bands on the ground floor. She booked PVA as headliners.

To be fair, PVA were never cut from quite the same cloth. The South London trio walked a well-trodden path as graduates of the Speedy Wunderground singles club, and later cementing themselves as key players amongst the well-documented Windmill scene, but have since joined a growing trend of indie bands in favour of defecting to a more electronic pulse – see Working Men’s Club’s Fear Fear and Squid signing to Warp. The band’s resulting debut Blush arrives as an album of compromise that strikes balance between machine-made currents and the visceral raw power of an intimate live performance. But of course, Harris is a human here. Alongside Baxter, both were instinctively drawn to synthesizer tinkering as a form of personal expression. Blush has edged itself as a queer album. This isn't Wax Trax! industrial edginess in spite of prime noisy “what kind of sound was that?!” bleeping; nor Depeche Mode wink and nod romantics in spite of how often Blush can make you say “wow that’s a clean synth patch!”; nor even T4TLUVNRG radically psychedelic gender euphoria in spite of several cuts that feel like personal triumphs; it's not even amongst another amalgamation in recent memory. It simply just sounds like the product of two musicians who like using synthesizers (and their drummer friend who plays perfect hard-hitting crisp percussives) trying to find a grip on themselves and landing in radiant euphoria or icy brooding.

No Where To Go But Up

Note: This release was advertised(and commissioned) as a "numbered" edition. During the manufacturing process it was unfortunately omittedfrom production. Dinked and the label both apologise and confirm that the pressing run - although not numbered - did remain at 500 units only. PVA’s Blush has been a long time coming. Nearly three years ago, Ella Harris and Josh Baxter–who share vocals, synths, guitars, and production–alongside drummer Louis Satchell shot out of left field with the closing 2010s decade Speedy Wunderground 7”, Divine Intervention. The cut was an electroclash ditty–four on the floor drum patterings, simmering hi-hats, a rather blurred and slinky guitar, and Harris’ “reading of a laundry-list'' speech delivery. It brimmed with ideas more than it was an outright techno banger. Yet, no one else in that pre-pandemic window quite had a cut like this that oozed casual coolness with such a riveting synth drop and boogie-bounce chorus. Despite its bright, euphoric veneer, much of ‘Blush’ is filled with the sensation of feeling slightly trapped and trying to break free – it teeters on a knife edge between celebration and summoning up the bravery to celebrate yourself in the first place. This is no more clear than on ‘Transit’; an uneasy cacophony of wailing train-horn vocals and its repetitive manta: “the space between, the space between, the space between…” On ‘Hero Man’ and ‘Bad Dad’ meanwhile, Harris interrogates how this fear of taking a leap intersects with the easy confidence of masculinity. “So what?” she shrugs, “You’re some kind of ‘hero man’.”It’s like Shania Twain’s ‘That Don’t Impress Me Much’ but given an electro-clash makeover.

BLUSH is the stunning debut album from South London band PVA. The beating pulse of electronic music with the raw energy of a life-affirming gig and reveals more about the trio than they’ve ever previously shared. This is the sound of a group pushing past expectations and delivering an album that opens up new worlds of possibility. Defying easy categorisation might be instinctive to PVA but BLUSH makes other elements of the band’s world clearer than ever before. During the past two years Ella has worked on solo material as Lime Zoda and written two collections of poetry, much of which she used as the basis for lyrics on BLUSH. The album was produced by the band alongside friends Ben Romans-Hopcraft and Jamie Neville over a two week period at Neville’s home studio in south London. They then mixed the record at FOLD, the club hidden away on a trading estate in Canning Town. One place intimate, another industrial; this is PVA’s world. Baxter does also take the mic in a couple key moments, with “Bunker” and “The Individual” bringing in a grimy claustrophobia that takes no prisoners. Baxter does his own gruff-talk style of the delivery that seriously (and welcomely) recalls last year’s Arab Strap at moments on “Bunker” and “The Individual”. For him, it's a delivery that allows the cuts he takes on the mic to masquerade a pulpy, hard boiled feel to them that effectively convey the brute viscerality; a transcendence is often suggested on these instrumentals’ ambient overdubs and layering, but often are pulled out from under with brilliant swagger. If anything, it complements and further shades Harris’ strongest moments that come out on the more subdued, but equally visceral B-side. “Bad Dad” in particular outlines an electroclash identity PVA could easily cruise off of just by the layered and anthemic instrumental alone. Yet, her lyricism and delivery purposely feature her in the mindset of a self-pitying “beast of a man”--a father that stands in for a society and worldview so much of Blush musters an opposition towards. GRAMMY-nominated, South London trio PVA have announced details of their highly anticipated debut album “BLUSH”. Following on from the release of their critically acclaimed single “Untethered”, the album is due out 14th October via Ninja Tune.

Tracklist

This is something Josh shares, too. “Vicariously, through Ella, I get to express my queerness, too.” He leads the vocals on both ‘Bunker’ and the saw-toothed industrial banger ‘The Individual,’ songs dealing with identity and the characters that we see within ourselves. ”This album is definitely exploring who we are as people,” Josh says. “We’ve all had this personal growth and the album is about us allowing us to be ourselves more and being comfortable with that.” Your computer may be infected with malware or spyware that makes automated requests to our server and causes problems.

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