Not that it’s unbelievable, but punk-rock can still bring it. White Lung cuts loose as prescribed by their 3 former full-length releases. The first 2 tracks of Paradise bring a familiar, untamed presence to the party. But, the new album has a razor-sharp edge that chisels some raw brainstorming into sophisticated masterpieces. Interviewed by Stereogum, guitarist Kenneth William says he wrote every song on the album in a different key. In case you don’t know how rare that is (and it is rare), it makes the art incredibly special. Paradise has several traces of polished anthemic gestures that take me back to times of music reverence.
Lead-singer Mish Way lures listeners to a non-delicate experience when she voices her opinion about being female and the tragedy of life. The theme to erase falsity, and explicitly point it out, is partnered with eerie lyrics of “giving birth in a trailer” and “cementing little sister into garbage”. All of this to say that Way successfully has the audience’s attention in her creation of dark and odd imagery. Of course, this is what gives White Lung its luster. If you’re not on board with this, you’re missing out.
A fan-favorite, “Below”, sits between chaotic and gaudy. This is where the band’s hard work is audible. William and Way are joined by drummer, Anne-Marie Vassiliou, to approach glamorous rebellion. The commanding presence of fluid guitar tone endures through the song. Way gives a powerful vocal performance and, by doing so, strips back image and physical beauty. But, instead of slamming it, Way embraces beauty as a tribute to culture. Genius uses her words describing the song as preserved “glamor and beauty”. I personally believe this is one of the greatest songs I’ve heard this year.
Another song that holds misconceptions is “Kiss Me When I Bleed”. This performance has such a harsh tone, it’s hard not to be confused by its meaning. In a nutshell, its a love song about Way and her husband. She obviously doesn’t care about having a family in poverty, just as long as she has him. If you needed to be convinced that punk-rock can be relevant and mature, this is the offering you may have been looking for.
Paradise pronounces the band’s vulnerability with songs like the title track,”Paradise” and “I Beg You”. These two songs are, most importantly, strong additions to the album. “I Beg You” has an aggravated connotation, yet captures the simplicity behind personal acceptance. “Paradise” seals off the album with 2-minutes of fast instrumentation, and bitter-sweet closing statements about selfless love.
Virtually, every track is loaded with stunning musicianship. The synthesizing, low range guitars, and a healthy dose of paranoid/pissed off lyrics give this album its unique goth-pop feel. However, I would have loved to hear a few more mixed dynamics in Way’s approach to the songs. I felt a bit uninterested at times because a lot of this album is built around the same lyrical scheme. Nonetheless, this album deserves free drinks and many listens. A job very well done.
Hardcore punk|Domino Recording Company