It should be clear from the fact that Paradise takes just 28 and a half minutes to tear through its 10 songs that Vancouver outfit, White Lung, are in the business of making punk music. The album’s brief duration isn’t surprising once you consider that the group’s first three albums last, on average, just under 22 minutes. Do not mistake the brevity for insubstantiality, as there is plenty for listeners to sink their teeth into here.
The group’s distinctive take on the punk sound is consistently on display throughout the album, with a frenetic energy pervading Paradise, carried on the backs of Kenneth William’s skittish guitar, Anne-Marie Vassiliou’s pounding drums, and Mish Barber-Way’s lacerating vocals. It would be a mistake to think that White Lung are one trick ponies, capable only of pithy blasts of sonic abrasion, as Hungry and Below are infused with a pop sensibility – and quite heavily so in the latter’s case – leading one to think of groups like Blondie or Yeah Yeah Yeahs, yet still sounding completely at home with the surrounding songs. That Hungry builds tension through the careful use of dissonance, and incomplete cadence, demonstrate White Lung’s compositional skills and the strength of their musicianship.
Demented’s darker tones and the grittiness of Vegas, which also features touches of post-rock/metal, show that pop isn’t the only genre influencing the development of the band’s sound, and if White Lung were to pursue these influences further – delivering lengthier and moodier tracks – the results would surely be quite interesting considering the skills and dynamics currently on display.
An assertive, yet unsettled, sexuality – faintly reminiscent of PJ Harvey’s Rid Of Me – is present on Kiss Me When I Bleed and the titular Paradise, which closes the album. These songs are companion pieces of sorts, with Barber-Way describing the former as a “riches-to-rags love song” while the latter details lovers daydreaming about running far enough away from society that “they’ll never hear our copulating”, showing that guttural emotion and intelligent expression needn’t be mutually exclusive.
For people who love their music short, fast, and loud, Paradise will be one of the year’s standout albums.