White Lung – ‘Paradise’ Review

LA/Vancouver trio White Lung soften the edges of their hardcore sound on their gripping fourth album

LA/Vancouver trio White Lung soften the edges of their hardcore sound on their gripping fourth album

From the first wave fury of the Sex Pistols to the math-metal aggression of Converge and modern malaise of Perfect Pussy, over the past 40 years it’s always been assumed that you have to be pissed off to be punk. It’s a pigeonhole that trio White Lung comfortably fitted into for their first three albums, climaxing with 2014’s searing ‘Deep Fantasy’, which took on everything from addiction to body dysmorphia with a thunderous, febrile rage. However, for album four, White Lung have somewhat softened their ragged edges and in doing so have created one of the most compelling albums of the year.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SiXMm9gZl5s

After getting hitched in-between the release of their last album and this one, frontwoman Mish Barber-Way is the first to admit that her loved-up, newly rose-tinted outlook has had a significant impact on the group’s sound. Discussing ‘Kiss Me When I Bleed’, she said: “This song is my fairytale. Riches to rags and happily ever after, because nothing else in this world really matters except love.”

But if you’re expecting mushy melodies and soppy couplets, think again. Despite tackling romance, White Lung are as uncompromising as ever. “I will give birth in a trailer,” hollers Barber-Way over Kenneth William’s squalling, frenetic, buzzing guitar lines, which sound more like synths than strings.

So the rage that permeated their early work is still bubbling away; it’s just been fine-tuned into something more sophisticated – not to mention more pop. ‘Hungry’ is perhaps the group’s most accessible offering yet, touching on the gloss of Hole’s 1998 crack at the mainstream ‘Celebrity Skin’ but retaining a personality all of its own ‘Narcoleptic’ shimmers with newly found poise, while Barber-Way has referred to ‘Below’ – with tongue possibly slightly in cheek – as her ‘Stevie-Nicks-meets-Céline-Dion’ ballad. Although it sounds nothing much like either, it certainly captures the grandiose, epic aspirations of both.

Seamlessly bringing together beauty and brutality, ‘Paradise’ is an album which proves that after four decades, punk isn’t just alive and well, but that it still has the power to take your breath away.

Details

Record label: Domino
Release date: 06 Apr, 2016