White Lung - Paradise (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

White Lung

Paradise (2016)

Domino Records

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 more possible. Mish Way quickly fronted Deep Fantasy to the top of my all-time favorite records a couple years ago and here, she finds herself leading the Vancouver outfit down a new road, but with the same impact and resonance. Paradise, despite what the title implies, feels darker, like the stakes are that much higher...that more dangerous. Less aggressive but very real.

White Lung continue to suffocate in a good way. Having dialed back their aggressive nature on the initial tracks I heard, for some reason I wasn't worried. There wasn't any cause for concern (reminding me of how I felt with Ceremony and Pianos Become The Teeth) because there are just some bands that fucking hit that home run. This time around, White Lung find themselves using much more shimmery, melodic sections as opposed to boisterous punk which really rung home in 2014. Way's managed to craft some of her most powerful lyrics to date, not to mention the music videos. Everything feels upped on their artistic scale and even more liberated. "Below" is a prime example of this as it comments on cosmetic value as it relates to people. Way rips into the superficial and materialistic side of beauty under a haze of guitars that I can best describe as angry dream-pop. Beautiful pain. It's one of their catchiest to date with quite a few songs occupying a similar mid-tempo space. However, they all still pack the fizz of old as you feel the angst, the emotional turmoil, the highs and the lows.

"Hungry" finds the middle-ground between the reverb/post-punk atmospherics as it stings a bit faster, all under Way's ever-prominent vocals, She's never sounded this good and in just 28 minutes, you can tell she's pushing limits, shifting sonically and moving forward. "Kiss Me When I Bleed" follows suit in an AFI-like manner (a la Sing The Sorrow or just prior). But rest assured, the feisty punk presence you've come to love about White Lung rears its head, and early on. They kick things off like this before delving into the newer territory. It's just such a big shock how they swerve things up. The punk, racing guitars and pulsating drums you initially signed up for are all there on tracks like "Dead Weight" and the bass-heavy "Narcoleptic". Pit-starters for sure. The stuff of old, the stuff of gold. When the dust clears, even though the album's length clocks in a bit long for them, you can't escape how they utilized the room to breathe. To cause chaos. Without really shouting. Paradise is ambitious and really stakes an early claim for album of the year. Very tough to beat I bet.