White Lung - Paradise
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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. If Barber-Way's resonant wail hinted at Hole's Courtney Love in the past, here she veritably underlines the comparison while also managing to stake out her own distinctive frontwoman territory. Part of this comes from her unflinching, fearless attitude at the microphone and sanguine, exuberant vocals. There's an enigmatic, feminist energy in her performance that's often implied more in tone than in the lyrics. Nonetheless, there is definitely a grungy, swing-from-your-hips, '90s riot grrrl punk underpinning to tracks like "Dead Weight," "Narcoleptic, and "Below." On "Vegas," she sings "Her mouth bleeds/Are you sorry?/Was she worth it?/Was her skin made of gold?" It doesn't hurt that she's framed by William's dazzling, laser-gun rat-a-tat guitar lines. Cuts like "Sister," "I Beg You," and "Kiss Me When I Bleed" strike a fist-pumping balance between the fiery hardcore mathematics of Taking Back Sunday and the passionate, guttural indignation of L7. With Paradise, White Lung have ultimately crafted an album of hooky, infectious songs that still retain all the rage and D.I.Y. punk creativity of their previous work.