Release Date: May 6, 2016
Record label: Domino
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
Drop whatever you're doing. And pay close attention. This is a public service announcement. One that rightfully offers the starkest condemnation of society. One which continues to elevate White Lung's catalog and overall standard of work immensely. And I say this thinking that it couldn't be any ….
Although White Lung sprung from the Vancouver underground, they've never been shy about their ambition. "We'll celebrate breaking even after every single [self-booked] tour," frontwoman Mish Barber-Way wrote prior to the release of their second album, 2012's Sorry. "And that's totally okay with me." With Paradise, their fourth, they've talked about exploring a new pop sensibility, versus "this really stupid attitude that only punks have where it's somehow uncool to become a better songwriter." Barber-Way took singing lessons; they embraced "accessible." None of which, thankfully, has pared down Kenneth William's tar-spitting guitars, Anne-Marie Vassiliou's breakneck drumming, or their powerslide dynamic.
“Expansive” is the wrong word to describe a viciously focused, 29-minute album, but White Lung’s fourth full-length is an evolution in every direction. The breakneck Vancouver quartet’s latest effort packs knotty instrumentation and glinting, steel-edged melodies, pierced by hints of ’00s radio rock and singer Mish Barber-Way’s dry sneer. Passionate by rarely loving, Paradise works on a higher conceptual level as well; Barber-Way’s side gig as a journalist and advice columnist has broadened her perspective and solidified her voice in a way few lyricists get to experience.
White Lung's fourth studio album, 2016's Paradise, is a dynamic, purposeful work by a band coming into its own. A streamlined, passionate, ball-bustingly confident album, Paradise is the perfect showcase for vocalist Mish Barber-Way's throaty, raging punk intensity, drummer Anne-Marie Vassiliou's propulsive rhythms, and guitarist/bassist Kenneth William's kinetic heavy metal and emo-informed fretwork. Working with producer Lars Stalfors (Matt and Kim, Cold War Kids, the Mars Volta), White Lung have honed their approach, zeroing in on several well-curated influences from Hole to the Pixies, Nirvana, and other late-'80s/early-'90s bands.
With Deep Fantasy, Vancouver punk trio White Lung made one of the most thrilling albums of 2014, its vicious riffs following the line of least resistance to punchy choruses, all dispatched at frantic speed, frontwoman Mish Barber-Way’s full-throated roar recalling Courtney Love at her most ferocious-sounding. There is greater variety on this follow-up, their fourth album, the more measured likes of Below and Sister reining in the speed and aggression, and sounding positively slowcore compared to their earlier work. There’s an even lighter touch on Hungry, the strength of the tune overcoming the need for sheer power.
About 20 seconds into "Narcoleptic," the second song on White Lung's latest, Paradise, Kenneth William's guitar drops out of the mix, leaving his band mates to carry the track. While hardly groundbreaking, it's a jarring move for a band whose sound, up to this point, has been defined by his claustrophobic blitzkrieg. White Lung pride themselves on overwhelming listeners, pushing their skills to the limit, and though it sometimes seems like they may box themselves into a corner, with each release the Vancouver- and Los Angeles-based quartet manage to push the walls further outward, making subtle tweaks to their formula that reveal deeper depths to their aural attack.
Needle-sharp and packed full of vigour, White Lung’s return shoots straight for the veins. It’s a rush of adrenaline in a world swarmed by fuzzed-out pretenders - a welcome antidote to the haze modern punk increasingly finds itself drowning in. Thundering out of the gates with a glistening synthetic twinkle, not unlike the start-up sound of a next-gen games console, opener ‘Dead Weight’ hitting like every Street Fighter special move at once.
Shortness of breath. Fluid filling up lungs. Skin turning blue from lack of oxygenation. These are all symptoms of acute respiratory distress syndrome, or “white lung.” It’s hardly coincidence that these also describe what it’s like to listen to Vancouver’s White Lung. Since the band ….
Even though Vancouver punk outfit White Lung’s last album was titled Deep Fantasy, it’s on their new album, Paradise, that the band really makes a break for it. The album separates itself from any expectations—save, perhaps, volume and speed—that come out of White Lung’s previous records. In their place, we get a new set of rules, a new set of sounds.
A solid two sides of music is about as satisfying as it gets. You can wave your double gatefolds around and explain the genius of a concept album, but when you get a compact showcasing of a band's sound and it’s on point, it’s almost impossible to beat. But what about when the music barely covers one side? Montreal outfit White Lung have always championed the short, sharp, shock approach to album lengths, making their latest release Paradise something of a ‘long-listen’ at 28 minutes.
Paradise, the fourth record from the Vancouver punk outfit White Lung, comes roaring in on the back of ripping video gamey guitars and a killer vocal performance by lead vocalist Mish Way on the track 'Dead Weight.' Things do not slow down much from there, as one ripper after another feeds through the speakers at breakneck pace. Paradise is the follow-up to 2014's critically acclaimed Deep Fantasy, which was, for what it is worth, just named one of the 40 best punk albums of all-time by Rolling Stone. That album's furiously noisy anthems brought them legions of new fans to White Lung and, with that, increasingly high hopes for what the future had in store for this raucous band.
Canadian outfit White Lung built themselves up from Vancouver’s DIY, underground community, their reputation growing from sweaty basement shows and a fondness for enigmatic song structures. Their debut full-length, 2010’s It’s The Evil, saw them hitting unexpected heights at the first time of asking, with awards nominations and a sharp spike in fan numbers. Fundamentally punk, White Lung have a reputation for energetic, ire-fuelled blasts, but on Paradise, their fourth album and first for Domino, this anger isn’t attributed to the band themselves but rather a range of both fictional and real-life characters.
2014’s sterling Deep Fantasy saw White Lung thrashing away under a mushroom cloud of eardrum-rattling guitar effects – a triumphant honing of everything they’d done before. This fourth album feels like a further refinement; the melodies bigger, the textures more cryptic. For instance, Below wrenches a soaring chorus from soft, reverb-drenched beginnings, while Hungry’s wracked, refracted riffs are somehow both woozy and full of purpose.
An abrasive hardcore band progressing from pummeling noise to nuanced songwriting is hardly novel in 2016. It's almost perfunctory, part of the Internet's cred-to-buzz-to-respectability-to-longevity arc. Fucked Up, The Men, and others have recently made this transition, often looking backwards to previous eras for inspiration: the conceptual rock opera for latter-days Fucked Up, Neil Young and the Stones for The Men.
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.
by Justin Pansacola Jessy Lanza has no shortage of peers in the ever-expanding hazy area between experimental R&B, pop, and electronic music, so the distinguishing factors take on greater size. In Lanza’s case, it’s how little there is. Her music has depth and the ideas come off strong, but Oh No frequently adheres to a “less is more” philosophy.
Over its three previous full-lengths—a pair for top-notch hardcore-punk label Deranged Records and 2014’s how-do-you-do Domino upgrade Deep Fantasy—Vancouver’s White Lung has stayed true to one of the most elemental traits of punk: Keep the rhythms relentless, like a boxer working a speed bag. While steady-and-true drummer Anne-Marie Vassiliou certainly stays in her lane on the new Paradise (not a dig, mind you), the raspy vocal flourishes from frontwoman Mish Way and the ever-evolving frenetic guitar work of Kenneth William continue to enable White Lung to stretch the seams of punk—without bringing into question the simple integrity of what they’re out to accomplish. At its core, Paradise is another addition to a pretty flawless, decade-old White Lung canon.
White Lung’s fourth album is perhaps their most sonically diverse yet, building off the white-knuckle ride that was 2014’s Deep Fantasy. It’s also a reminder that even a “tamer” White Lung are among the most visceral, violent and thrilling bands we have. Paradise begins with a bang, as “Dead Weight” is vintage White Lung. The track features stellar vocals from singer Mish Barber-Way and spiraling guitar that give the track a sense of escalating drama.
Vancouver's squall-punk rock trio expands on the basement snarl of 2014's Deep Fantasy with confessional conflagration. Their bleeding-ear, arena-ready punk production bangs no small amount of unsuspected grace: "I will give birth in a trailer/ Huffing the gas in the air/ Baby is born in molasses/ Like I would even care," howls Mish Way on single "Kiss Me When I Bleed." Backed by Ken William's incendiary guitar and Anne-Marie Vassilou's crack o' doom beats, Paradise is – like the acute respiratory distress syndrome they're named for – breathtaking and terrifying in equal measure. (Sun., 8:15pm, the Keep stage) .