24 May 2016

White Lung / Paradise (album review)

The Vancouver band seemingly manage to reinforce notion that punk is not dead, nor will it be whilst they continue to proudly uphold its banner with their latest album Paradise. After the storming success of their 2014 third album Deep Fantasy which reached the heights of critical acclaim with uncopriminsing, visceral and often vicious sound taking it to a place on Rolling Stone’s 40 best punk albums ever, White Lung appear to have focused their cutting musical onslaught on a knife edge  somewhat into a more concise and refined sound. Yes, a little of the rawness that so many of us grew to love on Deep Fantasy may have dampened slightly, but undoubtedly the excitement remains.

The blistering 28 minute Paradise opens with Dead Weight which is classic White Lung – punchy, feisty splatter-noise with rip roaring guitars and something of an anthemic feel to it. Having a female fronting a band is something we sadly don’t get to see too much of in today’s so heavily male dominated music world, and the formidable vocals of Mish Barber-Way on Paradise put us all to shame for that. Her voice is at its best on the album’s title track which races past you in an enthralling flash of melodic white heat, where it seems to have a confidence to it, an assurance perhaps built on the fact that Paradise manages to sound fresh and yet remarkable, could come straight out of the 80s/90s Los Angeles punk scene which saw bands like Hole emerge to go on to massive mainstream success. In fact, there are definitely parallels to be drawn between White Lung and the similarly feminist punks Hole.

But are White Lung set to follow them in terms of keeping on gaining traction, recognition and ultimately success? Well, there’s certainly a palpable effort by the band to strive to improve their song writing on Paradise, something they’ve achieved, and there is a slight gloss on the album, an almost pop twist seemingly being explored; whether this is the secret to the success they undeniable deserve, only time will tell. But for me at least, despite definitely enjoying Paradise greatly, I find myself missing the almost intrusive rawness of their past material. Nevertheless, the potential, the possibilities and certainly the abilities of this band seem infinite and I for one am hopeful that they’ll reach the kind of mainstream success that Hole achieved, and I’m dying to see it happen.

8.3/10

Words: Nathaniel Wells