Ross KieferA&E Editor
Canada’s own White Lung dropped their fourth studio album “Paradise” back in early May, and for listeners it’s quite the power trip. This four-piece based out of Vancouver supplies plenty of raw, jet fueled energy paired with shredding guitars.
Since its formation in 2006, White Lung has managed to consistently impress music critics. Their album “It’s the Evil” was named punk album of the year in 2010 by Exclaim!. They received another nomination in 2011 for Punk/Hardcore Artist/Group of the Year at the Canadian Music Week Indie Awards.
Fronted by Mish Way, this album features lyrical content addressing issues facing women, and marks a slight departure from the band’s roots.
One notable difference is that production values are way up from the band’s former efforts. Guitarist Kenneth William is using a fuller sounding guitar tone, very different from the sparse guitar work of the band’s first two albums. “Paradise” also marks bassist Lindsay Troy’s first recorded appearance with the band. Her overtly aggressive bass tone compliments William’s guitars. This album features high intensity drumming throughout the record, there’s no song on the album that doesn’t call for it. Anne-Marie Vassiliou delivers by the being the pounding secret weapon of the band.
Mish Way acts as lead singer and lyric generator for the band. For this album she especially focuses on issues of female perception and self worth.
The verse of the opening track “Dead Weight” begins with the lyrics “A pound of flesh lays between my legs and eyes.” This bleak attitude is continued in the refrain “And I know the hole inside of me is not the way I ever want to be”. Vassiliou really sets the mood for this track with a really heavy attack, and it’s complimented nicely by Williams energetic strumming. The next song “Narcoleptic” is very much in the same vein as the previous track. Here Troy’s gnarly bass tone really cuts through and helps to push tension between sections.
The track “Below” would probably make The Cure’s Robert Smith smile with flattery. Definitely the most mellow song on the album, it still doesn’t sacrifice for intensity. The opening features synth, which some will definitely not consider them punk rock even though I love them, and some sparse, chorusey guitar. Way herself said this song is a rebuttal to Feminism’s rejection to values of beauty. If there is a single on this album it is definitely this one. It may be the most “White Lung” track on this album, and the lyrics are a bit trite, but I can see sad boys and sad girls everywhere jamming out to it.
“Demented” brings the album back to a heavy mentality. The super distorted chugging in the guitar with breakdown beat of the drums in the opening could probably start mosh pits.
On “I Beg You” William’s guitar chops are on full display. The proverbial shred knob is cranked and licks on licks are being let loose. The only problems is that the guitar is a bit low in the mix, so there is some strain for you to hear William’s mad genius.
Layered in fuzz and overdriven estrogen, “Vegas” is defiantly the hardest-hitting song on the album. Each chord sounds like a brick wall slamming into another brick wall and you will probably want to punch something afterward. Also the synthed up outro is a beautiful moment and oddly fits in with the distorted chaos.
The title track “ Paradise” is the shortest song on the album. The lyrics are all about running away with that infatuated someone, but it still has that beefy punch that White Lung has tailored into their own.
“Paradise” as a whole shows White Lung’s march into more refined territory. This movement could be somewhat heard on their previous album, “Deep Fantasy”, but the transition is more fully embraced here. The guitar simply sounds way more encompassing than it has on past albums, and the bass work thickens up the album even more. For me the best thing on the album is Vassiliou. Even the most of the songs share the same driving drum beat, she just manages to play in such an alluring way. The drums on this album just sound massive, and you can’t help but to love it. I already mentioned how much I dig the synth, and I hope they use more on future records
This album is a good listen for fans of White Lung who have been following them since their early releases, or it could also appeal to those looking for more accessible heavy music. White Lung has managed to keep their punk stylings, while throwing on more distortion and simultaneously cleaning up their sound.
“Paradise” can be streamed on Spotify, and will assuredly piss off parents everywhere.