Have you ever tried to listen to White Lung without thinking about the release date? You can feel like this music teleports you directly in the late 60s, a period in which early punk was giving way to punk rock who was springing up.
White Lung is a punk band from Canada formed in 2006. The band consisting of Mish Way-Barber (vocals), Kenneth William (guitars), Anne-Marie Vassiliou (drums) and Lindsey Troy (bass) who has joined the band in 2015. They have released four albums between 2010 and 2016: It’s the Evil (2010); Sorry (2012); Deep Fantasy (2014); Paradise (2016).
The trio reached its peak with the album of 2014: Deep Fantasy that in 2016 Rolling Stone listed as #38 on “The 40 Greatest Punk Albums of All-Time”. The 2014 album is often labeled as “feminist punk record” because of its lyrics that speaks about rape, culture of violence, insidious ways affects society (“I Believe You”) and about the fear of getting drink spiked in a club (“Down It Goes”), body dysmorphia and personal addiction.
On May 6th, 2016’s “Paradise” was released and it represents the musical maturity for this band. Lindsey Troy helped to give greater weight to the sound with a more incisive sound of bass-guitar, before played by Kenneth William. The sound is more complex, melodic and the tracks have a punk-anthem structure. In one word, it’s more sophisticated. The album is less dirty but the sound is as aggressive as the previous one. A masterpiece of punk, rare bird during nowadays.
28 minutes, 10 tracks. The album’s rhythm is relentless, Barber-Way has a powerful high-pitched voice. Drums run, taking high the rhythm and the guitar is a mix between punk and metal, unleashed during each track.
If the previous album is to ascribe as a classic punk work, with this new one White Lung bring into their music more dynamism, imagination and creativity.
“The great thing about growing up in a punk band and doing everything your own way is that we can adapt“
Surely, the lyrics’ subjects changed: topics are more various. Whereas before the lyrics were more autobiographic, now Way-Barber writes more story-centric songs. In particular some subjects of the songs were inspired by the TV programme “Investigation Discovery: women who kill”.
“Demented” is about Fred and Rosemary West, a married couple that killed at least a dozen women during 60s. “Sister,” written according to the perspective of Karla Homolka, who, with her husband Paul, did the same to three women, including Homolka’s sister.
“That freedom of fiction allowed me to take on new characters, so when I’m singing those songs it’s like I’m putting on a new character. It makes those feelings easier to summon.”
However the autobiographical theme is still present into “Paradise“, title track and the last one of the album; it is about her and her husband: “This record is a collection of other people’s stories I wanted to retell … There isn’t a lot of anger on this album. It’s colorful, bright, cotton candy, oversaturated, neon signs and glitter … just paradise.” “Dead Weight” is an attack against the Republican party concept of female bodies as pliant reproductive vessels.
Compared to the previous album this work is more coherent, track by track. There is an underlying sound that explodes into the song “Narcoleptic” followed by the lightest song of the album “Below” in which the band begins to approach goth-pop unlike anything we’ve ever heard before from them, telling about modern unfair games of beauty . “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”.
“Hungry” tells about fame and the human desire to simply be seen and heard. It’s an enigmatic lyrics that from one side criticizes everyone and on the other side it also a criticism to themselves as a warning that any kind of celebrity can rip you into pieces.
XXI century punk looking for a new foundation towards a future to write and White Lung are the right band to write it: a new punk perspective.