White Lung still shred on Paradise

ParadiseWhite Lung are probably one of the most underrated punk acts from the last decade. Mixing fierce, piercing screams and insane guitar shredding with poppy hooks, the Canadian band has already built an enduring cult legacy with three outstanding albums. Now, they’re ready to become bigger than ever with Paradise, their fourth studio album.

Paradise is a poppier album than its predecessors, but the band’s songwriting hasn’t drastically changed - it’s only the production that heavily diverges from their formerly aggressive sound. In their first three albums, White Lung sounded like a hardcore punk band that wanted to write pop songs. On Paradise, they’re closer to being a pop band doing punk, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Produced by The Mars Volta collaborator Lars Stalfors, Paradise is an extremely fun record, filled with that kind of enduring hooks that have become the band’s trademark over the years. They’re still sticking to their guns, they’ve just changed the way they approach their songs.

As in every other White Lung record, the guitar playing is simply astonishing - it remains complex while avoiding fretwankery, and there are some guitar hooks (“Paradise”, “Kiss Me When I Bleed”) that are as captivating as their vocal melodies. However, hardcore fans may find Mish Way’s vocals particularly surprising. On their first three albums, it felt as if she were shouting right at your face, while her vocal approach on Paradise is calmer and features excessive studio trickery. But once you hear Kenny McCorkell’s crazy guitar shredding and Anne-Marie Vassiliou’s thundering drums on “Dead Weight”, you know that only White Lung could write a record like this one. Way’s new vocal approach may displease some fans, but it totally fits within the album’s context. Songs like “Narcoleptic” or “Below” benefit from her doubled vocals, both of them being two of the record’s highlights. Think of the latter as an exciting White Lung meets Jimmy Eat World track that somehow works even if it doesn’t look too good on paper.

White Lung try to explore new grounds on Paradise, but their experimentation is rather about tiny details kept in isolation than about radical adjustments - “Vegas” features a beautiful ambient outro that is as brief as completely unexpected, while the epic intro of “I Beg You” quickly transforms into a furious punk outburst.

Paradise takes the best of both worlds and finds a happy middle ground between White Lung’s early releases and poppier punk albums. It’s also their longest album to date, clocking in at almost 30 minutes. Actually, the length of the record says a lot about it - it’s a small difference from their other releases, a barely insignificant change that doesn’t affect the integrity of the band at all. It may sound a bit different, but Paradise is every bit as good as the three previous White Lung albums.

Release: 6th May 2016, Domino Recording Co

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