With the release of their first three full-length albums, Vancouver, BC-based trio White Lung — comprised of Mish Barber-Way (vocals), Kenneth William (guitar) and Anne-Marie Vassilou (drums) — have seen a growing profile across the blogosphere for a raw, scuzzy and primal sound that was both relentless and punishing in a fashion that compared favorably to the likes of Screaming Females and others. However, when the trio went into the studio to record the material that would comprise their upcoming fourth full-length effort Paradise, with producer Lars Stalfors (known for his work with HEALTH, Cold War Kids, and Alice Glass), the members of White Lung had decided that changing their songwriting and recording approach was absolutely critical. Not only did the band want to make a record that sounded incredibly contemporary and with an pop-leaning sensibility, they wanted to show that they had progressed as songwriters, musicians and artists. Interestingly, such thinking actually defies some age-old thinking in punk — that somehow personal and artistic growth as an artist is somehow the worst possible thing, and that the artist somehow sold themselves out and have ditched their long-term fans in the process. (Of course, I wonder what half of these people would say about The Clash around the time they released Sandinista or Combat Rock!)
Now you might recall that last month, I wrote about Paradise’s first single “Hungry” and that single revealed that the band went through more than a mere refinement of the sound that has captured the attention of the blogosphere, it’s a thorough modernization. Granted, they retain the huge power chords and blazing guitar pyrotechnics; however, the guitar lines are cleaner, punchier and much more concise — and in fact, with “Hungry,” it seemed as though the band was pushing their sound from punk towards New Wave and hard (yet radio-friendly) pop. Additionally, with “Hungry” there was a noticeable and decided emphasis on melody and harmony on the vocals, sharper, anthemic hooks and a focus on larger, cultural phenomenon that had the band looking both within and without. Interestingly, Paradise‘s latest single “Kiss Me When I Bleed” manages to mesh the urgency and fury of their previously released material with a studio-friendly and radio-friendly polish — much like “Hungry,” the power chords and pummeling drumming are retained but they’re paired with an anthemic hook that you can imagine kids moshing and chanting in a sweaty club. Sure, the song may be among the most radio-friendly they’ve released to date but they’ve managed to do so while remaining punishingly insistent and forceful.